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Former priest in Diocese of Harrisburg arrested on corruption of minors, indecent assault charges

YORK COUNTY, Pa.-- A former priest in the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg was arrested Thursday morning on charges that he sexually assaulted children.

John Allen, 75, of York, is facing four counts of indecent assault and two counts of corruption of minors.

Allen, a former priest in the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, molested two victims between 1997 and 2002 when they served as altar boys for St. Margaret Mary's Alacoque Church in Harrisburg.

"Obviously, he [was] using a position of authority over these two boys to try and perpetuate sexual offenses," said Dauphin County District Attorney, Fran Chardo.

According to police, the investigation into Allen began in October 2018 after the Diocese of Harrisburg notified the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office of allegations being made against Allen by a victim.

In February 2018, the Diocese notified the District Attorney's office that a second victim was reporting abuse by Allen.

In the first case, Allen is accused of fondling the victim, and grabbing the victim's buttocks multiple times between 1999 and 2002.

The victim told authorities that the unwanted contact ended when the Diocese removed Allen as pastor of Margaret Mary's Church in 2002.

The second victim told police that Allen assaulted him from the time he was 12 until he 14-years-old.

That victim told police that Allen fondled him on multiple occasions between 1997 and 1999, grabbing the victim on both the buttocks and genital area.

Allen's name appeared on the list of priest from Harrisburg Diocese that was accused of past molestations, and he was named as an abuse in the Attorney General's report. Diocesan documents reveal there was concern with Allen's sexual behavior in January 1970, four months before he was ordained in May 1970.

Allen's employment/assignment history is listed below:

  • 1970-71: Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary, Lebanon, Pa.
  • 1971-76: St. Patrick, Harrisburg, Pa.
  • 1976-76: St. Francis Xavier, Gettysburg, Pa.
  • 1976-78: St. Francis of Assisi, Harrisburg, Pa.
  • 1978-80: St. Ann, Steelton, Pa.
  • 1980-86: St. Pius X, Selinsgrove, Pa.
  • 1986-92: St. Joseph, Lancaster, Pa.
  • January 1992: Arrested by Lancaster City Police for solicitation of undercover police officer, pleaded guilty to harassment and paid a fine.
  • 1992-1992: Leave of absence
  • 1993-95: St. Theresa, New Cumberland, Pa.
  • 1995-02: St. Margaret Mary, Harrisburg, Pa.

In February 2002, Allen was removed as the pastor of St. Margaret Mary's Church after a man reported to the Diocese that Allen had abused him as a boy.

At the request of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pope Benedict XVI formally removed Allen from the priesthood in February 2006.

Chief Deputy District Attorney, Sean McCormack, the lead prosecutor on the case, said, "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.  In this case, while the abuse occurred over 20 years ago, we are still able to bring charges because of the extended statute of limitations for sexual crimes committed against minors.”

If anyone has information that may help this investigation, they are encouraged to contact Det. John O’Connor at jo'connor@dauphinc.org.

The Diocese of Harrisburg released the following statement today regarding the arrest of John Allen:

The Diocese of Harrisburg removed John Allen from ministry 17 years ago immediately upon receiving a credible allegation of child sexual abuse against him. That allegation was also turned over to law enforcement and publicly announced by the Diocese at that time.

Every allegation of child sexual abuse concerning Allen has been reported by the Diocese to multiple law enforcement authorities. Allen’s name was released by the Diocese of Harrisburg in our list of clergy, deacons and seminarians with allegations of child sexual abuse on August 1, 2018 and he was included in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.

As the District Attorney’s office acknowledged, today’s charges were the result of reports made to their office by the Diocese.

We condemn John Allen’s actions and we fully support law enforcement and we cooperated with them on this case.

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.

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