Rapid City Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse

October 2, 2018

Fr. John Praveen is charged Tuesday with two counts of sexual contact with a person under the age of 16.

Rapid City Police and the Pennington County Sheriff's Office conducted a joint investigation after a juvenile victim reported the incident on Sept. 30. They believe Praveen made sexual contact with the child on two different times.

The 38-year-old was taken into custody on Tuesday.

Diocese of Rapid City Bishop Robert Gruss says he learned of the charged from police.

"I was surprised," Gruss said. "We are fully cooperating with the on going police investigation."

After learning of the charges, Gruss said he removed Praveen from his duties.

"I have suspended him from the ministry," Gruss said. "I'm deeply saddened that a family has to endure something like this from one of my priests and so my sympathies and prayers go out to this family but also to all families who have been affected by sexual abuse by clergy or anyone else.

Praveen, who's full name is John Praveen Kumar Itukulapati, was ordained in 2009 in India where he is from. He came to the Rapid City Diocese in November 2017 and originally served on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. He transferred down to the Rapid City Cathedral in the early summer of 2018.

Sexual contact with a child under 16 is a class 3 felony carrying a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or a $60,000 fine. He is being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

"This is obviously an ongoing, high-priority investigation," says Capt. Corey Brubakken of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division. "If there is anybody out there that may have information relevant to this investigation, we would encourage them to contact Investigator Jesse Fagerland at 394-6115."

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.








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