Sex Charges Won't Be Filed against Priest

Evansville Courier & Press
June 8, 2002

A Roman Catholic priest accused of having sex with a 16-year-old boy more than 20 years ago will not be charged because too much time has passed and state law has changed, a prosecutor said.

Knox County Prosecutor John Sievers said Friday he had reviewed state law to determine whether criminal charges could be filed against the Rev. Michael Allen, now pastor of St. Peter Celestine Church in Celestine.

"My analysis of this matter has been made difficult due to the fact that the Indiana Criminal Code was completely rewritten in 1976," Sievers told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial.

David Prunty, now a 42-year-old social worker living in Minnesota, said that he had a sexual relationship with Allen in the mid-'70s, when Allen was a priest at churches in Vincennes and Princeton, where Prunty then resided.

The Diocese of Evansville last month provided the prosecutor information about Allen's relationship with the boy so Sievers could review the case.

The legal age of sexual consent in Indiana is 16, and that law also applied at the time of Allen's relationship with Prunty, Sievers said.

Indiana's child seduction law would not apply either, he said. The law makes it a felony for child care workers, guardians and other adults in similar positions of responsibility to engage in sex or deviate sexual conduct with children ages 16-18.

Priests are not included in the law, Sievers said.

The law that applied at the time included a "very vague" felony sodomy statute that could have been applied against Allen, and an assault and battery law that might have been pertinent, but the statute of limitations on both had expired, Sievers said.

Prunty told the Evansville Courier & Press Friday night that he was disappointed in the prosecutor's decision.

"Somebody's going to have to answer to why (the abuse) was not reported to begin with," Prunty said. "More than one person is going to have to answer to that."

"I'm sure it's difficult for even prosecutors to think about filing charges against priests in their communities, but these are crimes that have been committed," Prunty added.

Jeff Anderson, Prunty's attorney, said, "Why should the passage of time cause a perpetrator to not be prosecuted? It is the perpetrator who causes the victims to not be able to come forward. If Indiana law does not allow for extended times, the law must be changed."

Allen went through a two-year treatment program in the early '90s that included time at a center for clergy with sexual problems. He was assigned to the Celestine parish about a year ago, but is not allowed to work in youth ministry.

Members of the Celestine parish have said they forgive him.

The Associated Press left messages seeking comment Friday at the Evansville diocese and St. Peter Celestine Church.


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