Defrocked Predator Priest Gets Probation for Molesting 2 Boys at Harrisburg Church
By Matt Miller
February 16, 2021
In a proceeding that took only a few minutes, a defrocked Catholic priest was sentenced to 5 years of probation Tuesday morning on his guilty pleas to charges that he molested two Dauphin County boys roughly two decades ago.
John Allen, 77, of York County, must also was deemed a sexually violent predator, the most dangerous type of sex offender. He will have to register with state police for life, undergo perpetual sex offender counseling and his neighbors will be told of his crimes.
County Judge Deborah E. Curcillo imposed the sentence under a plea agreement forged between the district attorney’s office and defense attorney Brian Perry. Allen pleaded guilty to multiple counts of indecent assault and corruption of minors filed against him by county detectives nearly two years ago.
Allen apologized to the victims before Curcillo imposed the penalty.
“He is remorseful,” Perry said.
Tuesday’s hearing was especially brief because neither victim spoke. Instead, they filed statements under seal with the court.
Allen’s sentencing marks the end of one criminal case against a legion of predator priests – more than 300 - named in a damning state grand jury report issued in 2018 as having molested children in their parishes statewide. The grand jury investigation revealed that more than 1,000 people, most of them children, were sexually abused by clergy in six of Pennsylvania’s eight diocese over the decades.
That report triggered multiple lawsuits and resulted in pledges by diocese, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, to pay financial compensation to victims and institute reforms to protect children.
When they arrested Allen in March 2019, detectives accused him of molesting the boys between 1997 and 2002 while they served as altar boys for St. Margaret Mary’s Alacoque Church in Harrisburg.
The criminal probe of Allen began when Harrisburg diocese officials told the district attorney’s office that a man had come forward with sexual abuse allegations against the former priest, who was removed from the clergy by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
The accuser told detectives Allen grabbed his buttocks on multiple occasions between 1999 and 2002, when the man was 10 to 13 years old. That contact ended when the diocese removed Allen as a pastor of St. Margaret Mary’s Alacoque in 2002. He was removed, according to the district attorney’s office, after the diocese learned of allegations of sexual abuse of another person.
The second victim accused Allen of touching him on the buttocks and in the genital area on multiple occasions from 1997 to 1999. That man said the molestation occurred when he was 12 to 14.
In August 2018, a former altar boy filed a lawsuit against the Harrisburg diocese in Dauphin County Court, claiming diocese officials didn’t adequately protect him from Allen. He claimed Allen “lasciviously leered at, groped and sexually molested (him) approximately a dozen times in different rooms at the church” between 1999 and 2002.
That lawsuit is still pending. No action has been taken on it since the diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.
Diocese officials said they took that step to secure financial breathing room while dealing with with hundreds of complaints of child sex abuse by predator priests. They claimed in the U.S. Middle District Court filing that they must erect that legal shield from creditors, including those who claim they were molested by priests as children, in order to continue acting as a religious and social welfare institution.