Fort Wayne-South Bend Priest Will Plead Guilty to Sex-Abuse Charges

Father David Huneck is a former high-school chaplain in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana.

Father David Huneck has agreed to plead guilty to two felony charges of child seduction and sexual battery.
Father David Huneck has agreed to plead guilty to two felony charges of child seduction and sexual battery. (photo: Whitley County Sheriff's Department / Whitley County Sheriff's Department)

Father David Huneck, a former high-school chaplain in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, 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, Father 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 the 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 would allow him to serve both sentences simultaneously, so he would only have to serve his longest sentence. 

During sentencing, Father Huneck is able to request that his felony charges be counted as misdemeanors. The agreement also includes the possibility of serving his jail time on work release.

A probable cause affidavit shows that Father 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 Father Huneck from their time at Bishop Dwenger High School, while he was chaplain. He was ordained in 2018.

The first night, June 30, 2021, Father Huneck invited the girls to celebrate his birthday with cake. He offered them alcohol, which they accepted. They did not become intoxicated, the affidavit said. 

Father 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. Father 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 adviser, 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. Father Huneck offered the girls alcohol and invited them to watch a movie. They accepted. Father Huneck became intoxicated and began groping the older girl. He then exposed himself to the two girls. The two girls then left. Father 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. Father 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 Father Huneck credible. He 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,” Bishop 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.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23.

Pope Francis: The Word of God Rekindles Hope

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the fourth-annual Sunday of the Word of God, during which he, for the first time, formally conferred upon lay Catholics the ministries of lector and catechist.