A former Roman Catholic priest named in a landmark investigating grand jury report about widespread sexual abuse and institutional cover-up was sentenced on Tuesday to five years’ probation for assaulting two altar boys in Dauphin County.
John Allen, 77, of West Manchester Township, had pleaded guilty to charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors for perpetrating the abuse at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He admitted to touching the children over their clothes.
Common Pleas Judge Deborah E. Curcillo imposed the punishment, which was outlined in a plea agreement and fell within the sentencing guidelines. Allen will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after he did not contest a finding that he was a sexually violent predator.
“I just want to plead guilty, your honor,” Allen said during the sentencing hearing, which was held over video conference. “I accept responsibility.”
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Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gettle has said the survivors were between 10 and 12 at the time. Law enforcement did not learn about the sexual abuse until more than a decade later.
Allen was one of 301 “predator priests” named in a Pennsylvania grand jury report in 2018. He worked in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and Snyder counties.
The Diocese of Harrisburg expressed concern about his “sexual behavior” as early as the 1970s, according to the report. The Lancaster City Bureau of Police in 1992 arrested Allen after he offered to pay an undercover police officer for sex.
The Rev. Paul Helwig wrote a memo in 1993 to Bishop Nicholas Dattilo that discussed how Allen went to a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting. That’s where Allen gave the impression that he had an “obsession with young boys,” the report states.
In 2002, Allen resigned after a man reported to the diocese that Allen had sexually him from 14 to 18, according to the report. Pope Benedict XVI dismissed him from the clergy in 2006.
Before the judge imposed the sentence, Brian Perry, Allen’s attorney, said his client has always accepted responsibility.
Allen, he said, was prepared to move forward with sentencing.
“He is sorry for his actions,” Perry said. “He hopes that people can find forgiveness in their hearts.”
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