COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WANE) — The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is reacting after charges are handed down for a priest accused of sexually abusing two teens.
Father David Huneck is facing six charges, two of which are felonies, stemming from two separate incidents where he allegedly offered alcohol and groped two teens in the house provided to him by Saint Paul of the Cross Catholic Church in Columbia City. He served as the pastor there as well as chaplain of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne.
SNAP is a nonprofit organization that acts as a support group for men and women who have been abused by religious leaders. Melanie Sapkota, Survivor Support Supervisor for SNAP, said despite some myths that abuse in churches happens primarily to young boys, the sex and age of victims vary.
“It’s probably pretty much equally divided between male and female survivors,” Sapkota said. “There is a slight advantage to the male survivors but possibly, that’s because if you have male clergymen, he has more access to boys than he probably would to females, but there are a lot of female victims out there to both those under the age of consent and those over the age of consent.”
What is uncommon about this case, according to Sapkota, is that charges were handed down so soon after the alleged abuse was reported. Whitley County Prosecutor DJ Sigler credits the quick action to cooperation from the people involved.
“Anytime you’re doing an investigation of any type cooperation is key,” Sigler said. “I certainly felt like we had that from everybody, and I think our investigators had free access to get the information that they needed to help me make a determination.”
Sigler said it also helped that the teenage victims, one a minor and one an adult, were very detailed in their accounts.
“The alleged victims were both very clear and very specific about what occurred,” Sigler said. “Anytime you have that kind of clarity, and that level of reflection from your victims, that’s a good thing. With all the parties working together I felt very, very comfortable moving forward.”
Sapkota hopes that cases like this will encourage more victims of abuse to come forward, however they feel comfortable.
“There are probably many, many more victims and witnesses than we know about, and whether it’s information about this case or information about any other case, or even if it’s not in the Catholic Church, please if you have information, come forward, speak up,” Sapkota said. “Anyone can make a report to CPS, anyone can talk to the media. Anyone can talk to the police. So if they have information, they don’t have to take it to the church, they can take it directly to the police.”