Runaway Priests
Hiding in Plain Sight

Rev. Víctor Hugo Carrera
Salesian Case Study #1

Dallas Morning News
June 20, 2004

[See a list of articles in the series.]

Abuse charges are pending in Chile against Father Carrera, who was arrested in early 2004 after being a fugitive for about two years. Authorities are investigating his boss, Punta Arenas Bishop Tomás González, for possible obstruction of justice.


Father Carrera is free on bail. Claudia Tzanis, a spokeswoman for the Punta Arenas Diocese, said he is not working as a priest.


Bishop González, a Salesian, sent Father Carrera to an unidentified Mexican treatment center in late 2000 after a 13-year-old boy accused the priest of molesting him repeatedly. Next the bishop moved Father Carrera to an undisclosed location in Italy, while the child's family pressed criminal charges and Chilean authorities sought extradition. At some point, Father Carrera escaped to Bolivia and worked in a parish for another Salesian, Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto, near the capital of La Paz. Back in Chile, meanwhile, Bishop González refused to tell police where the fugitive was. After Chilean reporters found Father Carrera working in Bolivia early this year, he flew home and was arrested.

González Juárez

The Priest Says

His lawyer and the bishop's spokeswoman say he admitted the abuse to a church tribunal, which banned him from the diocese for five years. In court, Father Carrera has said he fondled the boy once. Defense attorney Jaime Romero Donoso said his client should be eligible for probation or home confinement.

The Salesians Say

In a written statement last year, Bishop González said he would not disclose Father Carrera's whereabouts to protect the feelings of the priest's family and to prevent "the possible misuse of the information." Bishop Juárez did not respond to interview requests but has been quoted as saying he welcomed Father Carrera into his diocese at the request of friends, whom he did not name. They told him the priest had a legal problem and had been in the Mexican treatment center, he said. Bishop Juárez said he had had no contact with Father Carrera's other religious superiors.

Note: Father Carrera, though not a Salesian, was Bishop González's personal secretary.


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