Suffolk DA Looking into Mass. Charges against Arrested Seminarian

Associated Press State & Local Wire
March 30, 2003

The Suffolk District Attorney's office is deciding whether to prosecute a Chelsea man for alleged sexual abuse against a 12-year-old Massachusetts boy before sending the former seminarian to California to face abuse charges there.

Amado Pena, 52, was arrested in his Chelsea home on Thursday night after Massachusetts state police received a tip that Pena, who was wanted in California, was living in the apartment.

Bay State prosecutors found an outstanding 1987 Massachusetts warrant for Pena's arrest for allegedly sexual assaulting a then-12-year-old boy, and are deciding whether Pena can still be prosecuted on those charges, said David Procopio, spokesman for District Attorney Daniel Conley.

"We may work to do that first before sending him to California to be held accountable for the charges there. That's still to be determined," Procopio said.

He said investigators are searching by hand through files that predate computerization. While the alleged victim has been identified, they don't know where he is, Procopio said.

Pena appears in Chelsea District Court on May 2 for a pretrial hearing on the Massachusetts charges of unnatural acts with a child under 16 and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

Pena pleaded innocent Friday on the California charges. He suffers from tuberculosis and was arraigned in his jail cell to prevent spread of the disease, Procopio said.

Authorities in California alleged that while he was a seminarian, Pena molested two 14-year-old boys between 1980 and 1982 at Santa Teresita Church in the Boyle Heights area of East Los Angeles. Pena left the seminary before becoming a priest, prosecutors said.

An arrest warrant was issued after the Los Angeles County district attorney's office charged him Tuesday with 18 counts of committing lewd acts with a child.

He faces up to eight years in prison if convicted on those charges.

In Durham, N.H., more than 60 Catholics from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine gathered during the weekend to vent their outrage at sexual abuse in the church, voice concern for victims and demand greater accountability by bishops and other church leaders.

The meeting was organized by Voice of the Faithful, a church reform group that formed after the church abuse scandal erupted last year.

"There needs to be a change of heart," said Mary Ann Keyes, of Wellesley. "We were so used to accepting a way of doing business, that when we realized what had happened at the top levels of the church structure, it devastated us."


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