Retired Catholic Priest Wanted on Molestation Warrant Surrenders to L.A. Police

Associated Press, carried in The Press-Enterprise [Los Angeles]
Downloaded June 3, 2004

A retired Catholic priest who counseled jailed youths was arrested Wednesday for investigation of molesting an incarcerated teenage boy in 2001, police said.

Rev. Steven Charles Hernandez, 70, was arrested after he surrendered at a police station, said Officer Jason Lee, a police spokesman.

"He knew the arrest warrant was issued already. That's why he turned himself in," Lee said.

Hernandez is free on bail pending formal charges by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said the diocese did not pay the bail not "for someone who is involved in criminal behavior."

Tamberg, reached by telephone late Wednesday night, said he has not had time to gather information about Hernandez, including other churches at which the priest has worked.

Hernandez, who was ordained in 1982, retired from the ministry in 1997, but continued to serve at Lady of Guadalupe Church in Los Angeles until 2001, Lee said.

It's unclear whether Hernandez stopped working at the church before or after the alleged abuse, Lee said.

Police began investigating Hernandez in April 2002 after authorities received information from a juvenile facility in Los Angeles County about the alleged abuse.

Authorities searched Hernandez's quarters at the church's rectory but officials declined to say what was found.


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