COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WANE) — One of the victims allegedly abused by a former Fort Wayne Catholic priest, who pastored a Columbia City parish and served as a chaplain at Bishop Dwenger High School, is asking the community to come together.
“Healing from this is going to take time, as my healing process has just begun. I am asking that we come together for one another as a community to help us all heal from these shocking events. I know this news is not easy to hear or to process, but with time, we can get through this if we support each other.”– Teenage victim allegedly abused by David Huneck
According to a probable cause affidavit, the victim was one of two females abused by David Huneck. WANE 15 has chosen to not release the victim’s name to protect her identity. She was 17-years-old at the time of the first abuse. The other victim was 19-years-old.
Her statement went on to say:
“My heart and prayers go out to all survivors of abuse of any kind. You are so strong. I want you to know that you are loved and supported even through the darkest of times. I know that coming forward is not comfortable or easy, but when you are ready, know that it is safe. I encourage you to come forward, speak your truth, seek justice, and begin your healing process, as I have begun mine.”– Teenage victim allegedly abused by David Huneck
In response to the statement, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the organization “applauds the victim’s strength and courage.”
“It’s just absolutely remarkable and gives many other victims who may be sitting in silence that courage and strength to possibly come forward themselves,” said Mike McDonnell, SNAP’s communications director. “There may be other victims out there that needed to hear her statement today.”
McDonnell said it’s rare for a victim to release a statement so quickly, but said the move sends a message that the community will not tolerate this abuse.
McDonnell added that victims speaking out is part of the healing process.
“The first time you speak out is the most difficult,” said McDonnell. “Each time thereafter, you get your strength back. You get your power back.”
However, McDonnell, who was abused by a priest at a young age himself, said that healing is a “lifetime process” and that it should be taken one day at a time. He said it’s not uncommon for victims to experience relationship issues, distance themselves from family or resort to drugs or alcohol to cope with their pain.
He said SNAP recommends victims seek counseling or therapy to avoid any of those future problems.
SNAP will never approach anyone, however, sexual abuse survivors can find resources to help them on the organization’s website.
The case’s probable cause affidavit said the women told police that on June 30 they had been invited to Huneck’s home to “celebrate his birthday and eat cake.” Throughout the night, Huneck became very intoxicated to the point where he was slurring his words, stumbling and vomiting. He later allegedly grabbed one of the women’s breasts through her clothing despite her efforts to keep her hands away.
The two women then helped him up and put him to bed and that’s when Huneck pulled one of them into bed with him. Huneck stopped touching the woman after he asked her to, according to the affidavit.
Then on September 17, after “several normal interactions” with and apologies from Huneck, he again invited the two back to his home and both agreed to go. He then began grabbing and groping one of them. During the assault, the women say Huneck also exposed himself, according to the affidavit.
McDonnell said discussions to let young people know this behavior is “never acceptable,” regardless of the position of power someone is in, need to be held.
“It also needs to be set forth from the diocese to those in power that this is absolutely unacceptable behavior, and there’s going to be consequences if this is found out,” said McDonnell.
McDonnell said it’s likely the women went back to Huneck’s house after the first incident in June because of a phenomenon he refers to as “protecting the abuser.”
“That means that there may have been some type of a feeling that, yeah, there was some type of a mistake or… misunderstanding,” said McDonnell. “It’s not uncommon for individuals to feel some type of remorse, and maybe immediate forgiveness because they too, didn’t want any type of a scandal to break out.”
The Whitley County Prosecutor DJ Sigler has filed the following charges against Huneck:
- Child Seduction-Defendant has a professional relationship with child and fondles child
- Sexual Battery–Victim compelled to submit by force or imminent threat
- Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
- Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor-Basic offense for furnishing to a minor
- Two counts of battery
Huneck’s initial hearing in Columbia City Court is set for Wednesday at 1:15 p.m.