|Abuse Charge Costs Priest
By Howard Yune
January 29, 2008
A former Catholic priest in the Mid-Valley has been stripped of his title after allegations he sexually abused a 13-year-old boy in Colusa more than 20 years ago.
Bishop William Weigand of the Diocese of Sacramento on Monday announced the penalty against The Rev. Francisco Hernandez-Tovar, who served at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Colusa from 1986 to 1988.
"He'll never work as a priest and he'll never minister again," Kevin Eckery, a diocese spokesman, said Tuesday. The 59-year-old Hernandez-Tovar, a priest for 27 years, is not allowed to work for any diocese in any capacity and cannot draw a salary.
No telephone number was available for Hernandez-Tovar, who Eckery said lives in the Sacramento area.
The accuser, now in his 30s, told the diocese in July that Hernandez-Tovar had abused him while serving at Our Lady of Lourdes, according to Eckery. An 11-member review panel with eight lay members looked into the allegations and recommended that Weigand remove the priest.
During his two years in Colusa, Hernandez-Tovar also served Maxwell churchgoers at Sacred Heart Parish, according to diocese records.
Over the years, the priest worked in 13 parishes from the Sacramento area to Red Bluff, mainly ministering to Spanish-speaking worshipers. Failing health forced Hernandez-Tovar to give up full-time ministerial work about six years ago, according to Eckery.
Hernandez-Tovar was serving part-time at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Yuba City and Our Lady of Lourdes in Sacramento when the accusations surfaced, Eckery said. The priest was put on paid leave from both positions and barred from conducting Mass.
St. Isidore's current priest, the Rev. Francisco Hernandez-Gomez, said late Tuesday the parish will notify members of Hernandez-Tovar's punishment in its next weekly newsletter, but will leave any further investigation to the Sacramento diocese.
Diocese officials on Thursday passed the information about Hernandez-Tovar to the Colusa County Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Kevin Erdelt said today. No charges are planned because the statute of limitations ranges from six to 10 years for sexual felonies.
Anyone with information about the former priest's activities in Colusa is asked to call the Sheriff's Department investigative unit at 458-0215 or 458-0216, or the Colusa Police Department at 458-7777.
Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Howard Yune at 749-4708 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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