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Victim advocates react to former Diocese of Harrisburg priest’s arrest

HARRISBURG, Pa. --- John Allen, 75, a former priest in within the Diocese of Harrisburg, now faces four counts of indecent assault and two counts of corruption of minors.

A detailed account of accusations against Allen can be found on page 520 of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on sex abuse within the Pennsylvania Catholic Dioceses that was released in August.

His name is also on the Diocese of Harrisburg's list of clergy and seminarians accused of sex abuse, which is is described as having "multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children."

According to Dauphin County investigators, two victims, who came forward in the months after those reports became public, were the catalysts of their case.

Jennifer Storm with the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Advocate, commended the two former alter boys for coming forward.

“To be able to see accountability and see actual criminal charges in these cases is so important," said Storm.

Investigators say the first of the victims came forward in October 2018 and the second person came forward in February.

They also say the two survivors reported allegations of abuse against Allen to the Diocese of Harrisburg, who referred their cases to the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office.

Despite the alleged abuse occurring two decades ago, investigators said charges are possible since the alleged crimes against the two victims fall within the "extended statute of limitations for sexual crimes committed against minors."

In Pennsylvania, criminal charges can be filed if the child victim is within 50 years of age.

“It’s important to see a priest in handcuffs. It’s important to see a prosecutor’s office willing to prosecute a priest and so I think for those survivors, they take a piece of that justice," said Storm.

Storm said it's encouraging to see people coming forward while within the current statute of limitations.

"I think that says we are finally starting to create the awareness we need so survivors have that space and time to come forward," said Storm.

While Allen's former profession holds the spotlight, Storm said she hopes to create an environment where any victims of sexual abuse, whether it's a domestic situation or within a school, can come forward and report their situation.

“The Catholic Church makes up four, roughly four percent of all sexual abuse cases yet we keep focusing on the Catholic Church. I think we need to further this awareness that this isn’t just a church issue. This is a societal epidemic," said Storm.

The Diocese of Harrisburg has a website devoted to efforts involving victims of child sex abuse.

More information, including the ability to report child sex abuse, can be found here.

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