Priest to Return to Work

Houston Chronicle
July 30, 1997

HENDERSON - A priest accused of sexually assaulting a child last year will return to work soon now that prosecutors have dismissed the charge against him, the Catholic Diocese of Tyler says.

Citing insufficient evidence, the Rusk County district attorney's office dropped the charge of aggravated sexual assault involving a child against the Rev. Octavio Suarez, who has maintained his innocence.

""After a review of all the credible evidence . . .the conclusion was reached that the state could not carry its burden of proving Father Suarez's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,'' District Attorney Kyle Freeman said in a statement Monday.

Suarez, a priest for more than 32 years, was pastor of St. Jude Catholic Church in Henderson when he was arrested in October on a charge arising from an alleged April 1996 incident. Investigators did not release details of the allegations.

Suarez's congregation rallied around him and raised bond money for his release.

The diocese said it was pleased with the results of the investigation and that Suarez ""will be reassigned to active ministry in the near future. ''


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