Priests Linked to Teen Sex
Confused about sexual longings, in grief over his father's death and hospitalized after suicidal fantasies, Prunty welcomed the attention of an older man he admired and wanted to emulate.
He says the relationship turned sexual and continued on and off for several years.
"He was someone I trusted completely," said Prunty. "But I was too young to understand that what I was involved in was destructive and would damage me for years to come."
The man was the Rev. Michael Allen, now 57, and an associate pastor at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Celestine, Ind., a small town east of Jasper.
Allen, who once led a summer ministry program for seminarians, is now forbidden by his superior, Evansville Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger, from having any contact with teen-agers.
It was the stipulation put on Allen in 1994, after the priest admitted to Gettelfinger that he had "homosexual encounters" with Prunty almost 20 years earlier. Allen was sent to a treatment program for clergy with sexual problems.
Details of the relationship and its consequences are spelled out in a series of diocesan documents provided to the Evansville Courier & Press by Prunty.
Allen has refused to comment.
Prunty, an openly gay man who now lives in Minnesota with his partner of 15 years, contacted the newspaper after being asked by the diocese to sign a confidentiality agreement, which would have continued to keep the relationship secret.
Among the documents is a letter Prunty sent to Gettelfinger in March of 1993 detailing his relationship with Allen.
In it, Prunty said Allen visited him in the hospital where he was being treated for depression, and took him to basketball games and out to dinner.
"He was a needed presence in my life," Prunty wrote. "And I came to almost idolize the man."
According to the letter, the two engaged in "sexual play" and within a few months developed a more intimate sexual relationship.
Prunty said Allen once took him on an weekend trip to Indianapolis, where the two shared a hotel room.
Prunty wrote that it was only later that he realized how damaging the relationship was.
"I suffered a great deal because of the events that I have described: confusion, deep shame, fear, guilt and ongoing depression," wrote Prunty.
Prunty wrote that he spent years in therapy to deal with suicidal feelings that plagued him for years before and after his relationship with Allen.
He also alleged in the letter that he became sexually involved with three other priests after his relationship with Allen.
Prunty said he deeply admired Allen and wanted to be so much like him that he enrolled at the St. Meinrad seminary, intending to become a priest.
"It wasn't until just a few years ago that I realized my former relationship with Father Allen never needed to happen and could have been avoided," wrote Prunty.
Prunty concluded the letter by saying he wanted "recompense" for the "leftover guilt, shame, confusion, and pain that was the legacy of this experience."
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