Ex-Priest's Sex-Abuse Trial Delayed

By Jim McBride
Amarillo Globe News [Dallas TX]
August 3, 2004

A judge Monday delayed the sex-abuse trial of a former Tulia priest after the prosecution filed an amended indictment in the case.

Dallas court records also show prosecutors have received unspecified information that former Tulia priest John Salazar allegedly committed other acts of sexual misconduct against victims in Swisher County.

Salazar, 48, is accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old former parishioner while the victim was unconscious and physically unable to resist, according to Dallas County court records.

The alleged victim was intoxicated when she was assaulted last year in an Irving hotel room after a wedding, police and church officials said earlier. Salazar's attorney has denied the charge. The newly amended indictment alleges Salazar, a clergyman, caused the alleged victim to submit or participate by exploiting the victim's dependence on Salazar's professional character as a spiritual adviser.

The case was delayed Monday so the defense would have time to review the amended indictment, which was filed Friday, said prosecutor Felicia Wasson. Salazar's trial was set to begin Monday but will be continued until in the fall, Wasson said.

The former priest pleaded guilty in 1987 to two child-sex-related charges in Los Angeles. He served three years in prison and was released to a New Mexico treatment program for sex offenders.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Amarillo hired Salazar directly from the program in 1991 and assigned him to the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tulia. He resigned his pastorship in 2002.

Amarillo diocese officials said earlier they received no complaints of inappropriate behavior by Salazar, and parishioners from the church praised Salazar for his service.

Last year, a Los Angeles County court commissioner dismissed two other child sexual molestation charges against Salazar in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, changing the statue of limitations.


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