Church in El Salvador Begs Forgiveness in Sex Case

Reuters, carried in Houston Chronicle
November 22, 2006

San Salvador, El Salvador — The Catholic Church in El Salvador begged forgiveness today for a priest who raped an altar boy and now faces charges he abused other children.

The priest, Jose Daniel Rivas, 60, will face a preliminary hearing into accusations that he sexually assaulted two children, and police are investigating three other possible cases, prosecutors said.

The priest was sentenced Tuesday for raping an 11-year-old boy last year in the town of San Cristobal, east of the capital.

"This situation saddens us. We have to ask God's forgiveness and hope this never happens again," San Salvador Archbishop Fernando Saenz told the televisor network Telemundo.

Rivas sexually assaulted the altar boy in May when a group of children spent the night in a church building in San Cristobal, according to the court sentence.

Rivas is the first Catholic priest to be sentenced to prison in El Salvador for child abuse, although others have faced charges. The court also ordered Rivas to pay $500 in damages to the boy's family.

In November 2003, another priest was forced to pay $25,000 to a 31-year-old man for abuses suffered when he was a child.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed across the United States since a priest abuse scandal broke in 2002. U.S. church documents have shown that some bishops shuffled priests with histories of abuse between parishes or sent them for counseling rather than reporting them to police.

In Mexico, the Catholic Church accused a former altar boy in September of extortion by filing a lawsuit charging that U.S. and Mexican church officials allowed a priest accused of sex abuse to escape justice.


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