Priest Arrested for Failing to Report Sexual Abuse of a Minor by Church Volunteer
By Stephanie Innes email@example.com
Arizona Daily Star [Tucson AZ]
November 30, 2004
A 45-year-old priest from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson has been arrested for failing to report an allegation that a church volunteer had sexually abused a minor.
The Rev. Raúl Valencia García, who until recently was an associate pastor at St. Monica's Catholic Church, 212 W. Medina Road, was arrested by the Tucson Police Department on Nov. 23 for violating the state's mandatory law on reporting suspected child sexual abuse - a felony.
Valencia García, who recently was transferred to a position at St. Jude's Catholic Church, in San Luis, near Yuma, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the court case.
According to police, Valencia García was arrested for failing to report his knowledge of an allegation of a sexual act between a female minor and an adult male church volunteer. Sgt. Carlos Valdez said a second person - the volunteer director of the church's teen-age youth program - also was arrested for failing to report the allegation. The alleged sexual abuse remains under investigation.
Arizona law requires anyone who "reasonably" believes a minor has been abused to report the information to authorities within 72 hours. Valencia García, a former dentist in Nogales, Son., was ordained in June 2003.
"This is obviously a very traumatic experience for Father Raúl. If he didn't carry out his responsibility, I'm sure it is a lesson learned," Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said Monday. "Father Raúl is very involved in participating in further education and I'm sure that will be helpful to him."
Kicanas and the pastor of St. Monica's, the Rev. James Hobert, are inviting parishioners to a meeting at the church to discuss the matter at 6:15 p.m. Sunday.
In a letter to St. Monica's parishioners dated Nov. 24, Kicanas said that Valencia García voluntarily reported to the Tucson Police Department last week and has been released on his own recognizance.
"All of us are disheartened and saddened to learn about this situation," Kicanas wrote. "This emphasizes the clear and specific requirement for reporting an allegation of possible child abuse immediately to law enforcement, which is our policy . . . Father Valencia is voluntarily participating in further education and training on the child abuse mandatory reporting law."
Kicanas said it's important for church officials to know that even if an alleged victim doesn't want the incident reported to police, adults still have the responsibility to make a report, "not to hurt the person who has been hurt already but to protect anyone who has been abused."
Intensive training about child abuse prevention, reporting laws and background checks were all implemented following a multi-million dollar settlement in 2002 between the local diocese and 10 men who said they were sexually abused as altar boys by four members of the local clergy during the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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