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  Miami Archdiocese Suspends Two Priests for Alleged Sexual Abuse

By Vicky Agnew vagnew@sun-sentinel.com
Sun-Sentinel [Florida]
December 8, 2003

Two priests from the Archdiocese of Miami accused of sexually abusing boys have been suspended.

It is the second suspension for one of the priests, who returned to the pulpit in August after the archdiocese cleared him of wrongdoing in a previous incident.

The suspensions came in the wake of lawsuits filed against the priests last month.

The priests, the Rev. Alvaro Guichard, pastor of St. Frances de Sales Church in Miami Beach, and the Rev. Hector Gonzalez-Abreu, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in northwest Dade, deny the allegations.

The Archdiocesan Review Board, a committee set up to investigate sexual abuse allegations, advised that the priests be suspended until the criminal allegations have been resolved, Archbishop John C. Favalora said in a news release Sunday.

The most recent complaint against Guichard involves allegations he molested a homeless teenager 20 years ago, after the boy arrived from Cuba in the Mariel boatlift and sought help from the Catholic Church. The accuser, who was 15 at the time, said in a lawsuit that Guichard made nighttime visits to him and forced him to have sex in the pastor's quarters at The Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables.

Guichard has been accused in two other lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault, one of which is by a man who said Guichard and another priest set up sex parties for children at the Church of the Little Flower.

The Miami-Dade State Attorneys Office investigated the previous allegations and announced in August it could not file charges because the accusations were too old. The archdiocese reinstated Guichard soon after.

The state attorney is investigating the latest accusations.

According to state law, there is no statute of limitations for sex crimes when victims are 12 or younger.

Abuse that happens to a child older than 12 must be reported by age 20.

"We take every allegation seriously," said Mary Ross Agosta, spokeswoman for the archdiocese. "But the new allegations came to our attention in November."

The lawsuit against Gonzalez-Abreu said the priest sexually abused a teen in 1980, after the teen told Gonzalez-Abreu that another priest had molested him. The lawsuit says Gonzalez-Abreu gave the boy beer, showed him a pornographic movie and then abused him.

While suspended, priests are forbidden from dressing as priests, offering Mass publicly or administering sacraments, Ross Agosta said.

Vicky Agnew can be reached at vagnew@sun-sentinel.com or 954-385-7922.
 
 
 

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