Ex-Church Director Facing Charges

By Michael Barnett
The Monitor
November 11, 2006

McAllen — A former church education director is accused of having sex with an underage female student in the church's office.

Jose Abram Gutierrez, 28, formerly of San Juan Diego Church in McAllen, was arrested and arraigned Friday on child sexual assault and indecency charges. A judge set his total bond at $150,000.

Brownsville Diocese spokeswoman Brenda Nettles Riojas said Gutierrez was fired Wednesday, the same day a witness filed a report with McAllen police.

The witness, a church volunteer, told police that on Tuesday night he looked through a church window and saw Gutierrez and the girl lying on the office floor touching each other sexually, according to a probable cause affidavit filed with McAllen police.

The girl, who was not Gutierrez's student, told police that she and Gutierrez also had oral sex when she was helping him clean the office this past summer. Police did not disclose the girl's age.

Gutierrez, of McAllen, had been in charge of educating students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The Rev. Carlos Zuniga, the church's pastor, fired Gutierrez, a full-time employee, as soon as the report was brought to his attention, Riojas said. She noted that all Brownsville Diocese employees must attend Protecting God's Children, a child-abuse prevention program.

San Juan Diego Church, located at 3400 Idela St. off 23rd Street, opened in 2002. It was formerly Saint Joseph the Worker parish.

Michael Barnett covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4447. For this and more local stories, visit


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