Rapid City priest admits touching 13-year-old girl

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A Rapid City Catholic priest pleaded guilty to sexual contact with a child under the age of 16.

Father John Praveen, 38, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors Tuesday in Seventh Circuit Court. In exchange for that plea, prosecutors are dropping a second sexual contact charge.

Praveen was accused of having sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl in September 2018.

In court, Praveen admitted to touching the girl's breasts over her clothing.

He faces up to 15 years in prison when he's sentenced in April. In the plea agreement, both sides agree to recommend local jail and probation.

Praveen, who is from India, was told his guilty plea could affect his immigration status; and that he could be deported.

Praveen's attorney said they will not be seeking his release prior to his sentencing.

A statement released by Diocese of Rapid City reads:

"This kind of abuse by a member of the clergy or anyone is unconscionable and should never happen. We remain deeply saddened by these events. The diocese will continue to offer our assistance to the victim and the victim's family. We are grateful that the legal process that has led to this revelation of the truth. Our hope is that this decision and the subsequent sentencing will begin the process of healing for those involved. We will continue to pray for the victim, the victim's family and all victims of sexual abuse as well as Father Praveen."