Fort Wayne-South Bend priest will plead guilty to sex abuse charges .
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 7, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).
Father David Huneck, a former high school chaplain in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, has agreed to plead guilty Jan. 27 to two felony charges of child seduction and sexual battery after six allegations were brought against him for sexual crimes committed against both a 17 and a 19 year old girl.
The other four misdemeanor charges — contributing to the delinquency of a minor, furnishing alcohol to a minor, and two counts of battery — would all be dropped if the court accepts the plea agreement.
According to the plea agreement, which has the possibility of being amended before the change of plea hearing on Jan. 27, Huneck’s sentence for child seduction would amount to one year with between 10 and 90 days to be served in jail. The court will address the conditions and rules of the remainder of Huneck’s one year sentence during the hearing.
The sentence for sexual battery would also be between 10 and 90 days served in jail concurrent to his first sentence. A concurrent sentence allows Huneck to serve both sentences simultaneously, so he would only have to serve his longest sentence.
During sentencing, Huneck is able to request that his felony charges be counted as misdemeanors. The agreement also includes the possibility of Huneck serving his jail time on work release.
A probable cause affidavit shows that Huneck, 31, invited the two girls to his home on two separate occasions, in which he got intoxicated and groped and sexually harrassed the girls multiple times. The girls knew Huneck from their time at Bishop Dwenger High School, while he was chaplain. He was ordained in 2018.
The first night, Jun. 30, 2021, Huneck invited the girls to celebrate his birthday with cake. Huneck offered them alcohol, which they accepted. They did not become intoxicated, the affidavit said.
Huneck then became seriously intoxicated and began groping the older girl, despite her efforts to slap his hands away. He then asked the older girl about her sexual encounters and inquired if she would have sexual encounters with him. He became so intoxicated, he lay down on the kitchen floor. While the two girls assisted him to his bed, he pulled the younger girl into bed with him and groped her, to which she asked him to stop. Huneck fell asleep, then the girls left.
The girls said they returned to his home the second time because he apologized for his misconduct and had several normal encounters with him after the first night. Both girls considered him a spiritual advisor, friend, and central figure in their faith and were willing to forgive him. The older girl, however, said she “would not forget,” the affidavit says.
Their Sept. 17 visit was similar to the first. Huneck offered the girls alcohol and invited them to watch a movie. They accepted. Huneck became intoxicated and began groping the older girl. He then exposed himself to the two girls. The two girls then left. Huneck then texted the older girl the next day apologizing, adding that he may be relegated to the “bad priest list.”
In a Sept. 28 statement, the Diocese of Fort Worth-South Bend said it immediately referred the incident to authorities when it was made aware of the abuse. Huneck subsequently resigned as pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church and as chaplain of the high school. He was also suspended from all public ministry.
In a follow up statement on Oct. 8, the diocese said its internal investigation resulted in finding the allegations against Huneck credible. Huneck has been added to a list of clergy credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.
In a press conference on Sept. 28, Bishop Kevin Rhoades called the incident “tragic news” and “a shock to us all.”
“Sexual abuse or misconduct by clergy, as you know, has caused enormous pain, anger, and confusion for victims, their families, and the entire Church,” Rhoades said. “We have worked so hard here in our diocese to strengthen a safe environment within the Church for our young people and we’ll continue to do so.”
He added that the diocese will continue to do its best to provide healing and help for the victims and said that caring for the victims is his priority.