West Texas Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse

Associated Press State & Local Wire
June 6, 2002

A former West Texas Catholic priest has been charged with sexually assaulting a Big Lake girl in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The Rev. Miguel Esquivel, 49, was arrested this week and has been released on $25,000 bond, said Tom Hain, chief deputy at the Reagan County Sheriff's Office.

Esquivel was removed from active ministry about two months ago after the victim, now in her mid-20s, told the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, the Rev. Michael D. Pfeifer, of several incidents.

Esquivel has been charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, two counts of indecency with a child and four counts of sexual assault of a child.

He is accused of sexually assaulting the girl inside a Big Lake church and at various other locations in Reagan County. The victim reported the allegations to church officials and authorities about two months ago.

Esquivel, who had recently been working as a chaplain at La Tuna prison in New Mexico, had ministered in various counties throughout West Texas, according to Louis Fohn, attorney for the San Angelo Diocese. Pfeifer said Esquivel was in Odessa at St. Joseph's Catholic Church and spent time in Abilene, San Angelo and Fort Stockton.

There have been other allegations of sexual misconduct against Esquivel, Pfeifer said. He said none of those allegations involved children or was criminally pursued by the those who complained.

Hain said the victim "had a very good recollection of the incidents and when they took place."

Pfeifer, who met with Esquivel during the investigation, described him as "disheartened."

"It's with great pain in my heart that I learned that a priest of the diocese has been charged with criminal counts," Pfeifer said.

The victim has been offered counseling by the diocese, Pfeifer said.

If convicted of the first-degree felonies, Esquivel faces up to 99 years in prison, and up to 20 years for the second-degree felonies charges.

Big Lake is about 60 miles southwest of San Angelo.


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