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Former priest, who once served at St. Ann in Steelton, arrested following indecent assault allegations

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 3/14/19

Former priest, John G. Allen, has been arrested following allegations that he assaulted two altar boys while serving at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Harrisburg.

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Former priest, who once served at St. Ann in Steelton, arrested following indecent assault allegations

Posted

A Catholic priest who once served at St. Ann Church in Steelton has been charged with sexually assaulting two altar boys while serving at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Harrisburg.

John G. Allen, 75, of York, was arraigned on Thursday, March 14, before District Judge James A. Lenker.

He is charged with two misdemeanor counts of indecent assault of a person younger than 13 years of age, two misdemeanor counts of indecent assault of a person younger than 16 years of age, and two misdemeanor counts of  corruption of minors, according to online court records.

Allen was arrested Thursday morning by the Dauphin County district attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division, according to the DA’s Crimewatch page.

“There is a lot of confusion about the statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes. I encourage anyone who has been the victim of abuse, even if you think it is too late to report, please report your abuse to authorities,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean M. McCormack said in the release.

“In this case, while the abuse occurred over 20 years ago, we were still able to bring charges because of the extended statute of limitations for sexual crimes committed against minors,” McCormack said.

According to the release, in October the Diocese of Harrisburg notified the district attorney’s office of the allegations against Allen. In February, a second alleged victim came forward.

Allen was one of the clergy members identified in the Harrisburg diocese’s list of 72 clergy and seminarians accused of sexually abusing a child that was released in August 2018.

The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office later released a report compiled by a grand jury that had investigated child sexual abuse allegations in six Catholic dioceses, including Harrisburg.

Allen was identified in the AG’s report as one of the 301 accused clergy members.

The incidents alleged in the criminal complaint that the DA’s office filed with Lenker took place from 1997 to 2002 at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

According to the attorney general’s report, Allen also served at churches in Lebanon, Gettysburg, Selinsgrove, Lancaster, New Cumberland and at two other Harrisburg churches and at St. Ann in Steelton.

According to the report, the diocese was worried about his sexual behavior back in 1970, and in 1991 — six years before the first allegation in the criminal complaint — Allen was sent to the Anodos Center at St. John Vianney for an evaluation.

In 1992, Allen was arrested by Lancaster City Police for soliciting an undercover officer. He pleaded guilty to harassment and paid a fine, according to the attorney general’s report.

After a leave of absence, Allen served at St. Theresa Church in New Cumberland, where he stayed for almost two years. He was then transferred to St. Margaret Mary, where he served from 1995 to 2002.

According to the affidavit, when one victim was serving as an altar boy, Allen would come up behind him while in the church, grab his buttocks and look down on him. The assault allegedly occurred more than 10 times while the victim was from 10 to 13 years old.

A second victim also said that he was assaulted while he was an altar boy from 1997 to 1999, while the victim was from 12 to 14 years old. According to the affidavit, Allen grabbed the boy’s buttocks and touched his genital area.

According to the district attorney, Allen was removed from St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 2002 following a report made to the diocese. Pope Benedict XVI removed him from priesthood in 2006.

There are other allegations against Allen that are included in the attorney general’s report. However, they do not appear to be addressed in the charges filed against Allen on March 14.

According to the attorney general’s report, another man came forward alleging that Allen picked him up along State Street in Harrisburg and sexually abused him 10 to 15 times while the victim was 14 to 18 years old.

The AG’s report also includes another allegation against Allen, in which another man in 2003 reported that when he was younger than 18 and Allen was stationed in Selinsgrove, Allen paid him and sometimes others after he had sexually abused them.

Another man alleged that Allen forced him to play strip poker in 1971.

The Diocese of Harrisburg said that it had reported every allegation of child sexual abuse concerning Allen to law enforcement.

“We condemn John Allen’s actions, and we fully support law enforcement and we cooperated with them on this case,” the press release said.

“Allen is not now, and has not been for over a decade, a priest of the Catholic Church. Bishop Ronald Gainer, on behalf of the church, extends our prayers, heartfelt sorrow and apologies to all survivors of clergy sexual abuse,” the release said.

Allen is scheduled for a March 28 preliminary hearing before Lenker.

Allen was released after posting $25,000 unsecured bail.

Diocese launches Survivor Compensation Program

The Diocese of Harrisburg recently launched its Survivor Compensation Program, following a two-year investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office into child sexual abuse at six Catholic dioceses in the state.

According to a press release, the program is administered by the Commonwealth Mediation & Conciliation Inc. Survivors must apply to the program and aren’t automatically enrolled, even if they are known to the diocese.

The Diocese of Harrisburg’s program includes settlements for abuse victims by diocese priests, deacons and seminarians and priests and religious order priests from other dioceses but had faculties in the Harrisburg diocese at the time of the abuse. The claims period runs through May 13.

People will not be eligible for the program if they have previously settled a claim with the diocese or if the abuse has no connection with the Harrisburg diocese.

Before the attorney general’s report, the diocese released its own list of clergy members and seminarians who had been accused of sexual abuse since the 1940s.

Participants must have identified themselves to the diocese either on or before Feb. 11, 2019, although survivors not known to the diocese still can apply and be considered for future participation. Forms can be accessed at www.commonwealthmediation.com and www.youthprotectionhbg.com.

Anyone with questions or trouble accessing the forms should contact CMCI at 800-540-2624 or email harrisburg@commonwealthmediation.com.