The Dallas Morning News
October 20, 1996
HENDERSON, Texas - Police have arrested a Henderson priest on a charge of aggravated sexual assault, following an investigation of an alleged incident in April involving a child. The Rev.
Octavio Suarez, 58, a priest at St. Jude's Parish in Henderson, remained in Rusk County Jail early Saturday in lieu of $35,000 bail, a jailer said. The Most Rev. Edmond Carmody, bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, issued a statement late Friday that said the diocese had investigated but found no evidence of misconduct. "Concerns of possible sexual misconduct involving a child were made against Fr. Suarez in May of this
year," the bishop's statement said. The statement said the diocese had conducted its own "thorough investigation" into the alleged crime. "Our investigation, along with the parents' statements, confirmed that there was no evidence of sexual misconduct. Even though four months have passed since the concerns about the child were resolved to the parents' satisfaction, the Diocese reaffirms its offer to provide
assistance to all parties," Bishop Carmody's statement continued. The statement said the diocese would support police in their investigation and continue its own investigation into the charges. The Rev. Gavin N. Vaverek, chancellor of the Diocese of Tyler, said church officials were saddened by word of Father Suarez' arrest.
"Obviously this is distressing news when a priest is accused of a serious offense," said Father Vaverek, who added that he did not think Father Suarez had hired a lawyer. Henderson police arrested Father Suarez at about 1:30 p.m. Friday. Henderson Police Sgt. Jeff Price said the
case remains under investigation. Father Suarez took up his duty as administrator of Henderson's St. Jude Parish and Tatum's San Pedro the Fisherman Mission on May 26, 1994. He came to Henderson and Tatum from Nacogdoches' Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where he had been associate pastor since October 1992. He moved to
Nacogdoches in 1982, where he completed master's degrees in modern languages and counseling at Stephen F. Austin State University. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1964 for the Claretian Missionaries.