Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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Rapid City couple offers room and board to priest if released on bail; “hate the sin, love the sinner”

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) – Bail for a Rapid City priest charged with sexual contact with a minor got reduced on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The bail for Father John Praveen was reduced from a $100,000 cash only bond a to $10,000 cash only bond.

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

His lawyer argued to lower bond to $5,000 given his resources, but the state argued $10,000 would be best because Praveen, who is from India and not a U.S. citizen, poses a flight risk.

If he meets bond, local couple Brad and Mary Blauvelt agreed to take him in. The court ordered he must wear an ankle bracelet at all times, and he will only be allowed off their premises if he is going to the office of his lawyer or doctor.

The Blauvelts live out on Nemo Road and say there are no children in their neighborhood; they spoke with neighbors who seemed ok with it.

Mr. Blauvelt, who is a retired Rapid City Area Schools employee and parishioner at Our Lady of the Black Hills parish, says he feels it is the right thing to do, even though he doesn’t know Praveen.

“The phrase — and we hold to it very much so — ‘is hate the sin, love the sinner’,” said Blauvelt. “If he is guilty, I hate that with a purple passion, but I still love the man himself, even though I can’t say that I know him personally. He is a priest forever according to the Order of Melchizedek. In that, my heart goes out to him.”

In court, Praveen’s lawyer said parishioners in Rapid City are trying to raise money for his bond.

Praveen, whose full name is John Praveen Kumar Itukulapati, was ordained in 2009 in India. 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.