Bishop Says He Didn't Delay Reporting Priest

By Matthai Chakko Kuruvila
San Francisco Chronicle
June 26, 2006

The Roman Catholic bishop of Santa Rosa has denied claims that he should have been quicker to notify authorities about accusations that a priest had sexually abused three boys and has since fled to Mexico.

In a letter to the Diocese of Santa Rosa on Friday, Bishop Daniel Walsh said that Father Xavier Ochoa admitted in an April 28 meeting that he'd sexually abused a boy in Sonoma County and confessed to two other incidents with boys in Napa County and Mexico. The boy in the alleged Sonoma County incident was 12 years old at the time, and the boys in the other two alleged incidents were between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time, according to the Sonoma County district attorney's office.

Walsh said in the letter that he consulted with the diocese's attorney the next day, on Saturday, April 29, and a decision was made that the attorney would notify authorities after the weekend, on Monday, May 1.

Church and law enforcement authorities have told the Associated Press that the delay in notifying authorities gave Ochoa enough time to flee. But Walsh denied that Ochoa's flight was due to his actions.

"At all times we have acted in good faith, and I believe with reasonable speed, to notify the authorities of any information that we receive," Walsh wrote in the letter. "I did not consider him to be a flight risk and am dismayed by his decision to flee."

The district attorney has charged Ochoa, identified by prosecutors as Francisco Ochoa-Perez, with 10 felonies and one misdemeanor violation involving lewd conduct with children.


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