Jury Finds Priest Not Guilty in Sexual Abuse Case
Deliberations Took Just More Than Seven Hours

By Ruth Campbell
Odessa American
December 3, 2004

A Midland jury found a Catholic priest not guilty of six sexual abuse charges here Thursday in 385th District Court.

It took the 10-man, two-woman jury about seven hours and 35 minutes to find Domingo Gonzalez Estrada, former pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Midland, not guilty of the charges.

Estrada, 63, was charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and five counts of indecency with a child by contact in connection with incidents from 1989 to 1993, according to the indictment. The trial lasted four days.

"Justice was served and common sense won out," defense attorney Tom Morgan said. "There is no way these accusations could have been true. I am so very pleased for Father Estrada and that he can resume his duties as a priest and continue the good work he has done for over 30 years."

"We're glad it's all over," Morgan added. He said a special service was scheduled Thursday night at St. Stephens Catholic Church with Estrada presiding.

Earlier, attorneys on both sides tried punching holes in each other's arguments as the trial wrapped up with Judge John Hyde presiding.

During deliberations, jurors wanted to see if they could review testimony about how many times Estrada had been to the accuser's home. Estrada said it was a couple of times and the accuser said 14 to 21.

Using a large writing tablet perched on an easel, defense attorney Tom Morgan went through charges against Estrada pointing out what he called lies in the accuser's testimony.

With about 80 spectators looking on, Morgan said the accuser testified his mother made him invite Estrada to his high school graduation after seeing him at La Promesa Foundation in spring 2001. Estrada had stopped at the lay Catholic organization to visit a staffer there.

Morgan said neither of the accuser's parents said he seemed sad or distraught after the reported incidents when Estrada came to dinner at their home.

Clingman said a lack of physical evidence wasn't an issue because the incidents happened so long ago.


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