|One Down, Two to Go
Sacramento Priest Accused of Child Molesting Captured in Mexico, but Two Others Still on the Lam
California Catholic Daily
March 21, 2008
A former Sacramento diocesan priest who fled to Mexico 17 years ago when police began investigating charges of child molestation against him has been arrested.
The Rev. Gerardo Beltran, 50, started working in the Diocese of Sacramento in 1982. His parish assignments were St. Dominic's in Orland (west of Chico), St. Joseph's in Sacramento, and St. Anthony's in Winters (west of Sacramento, in Yolo County).
According to the Sacramento County District Attorney's office, Beltran has been charged with four counts of child molestation involving two victims for incidents that allegedly occurred between 1989 and 1991.
Beltran fled to his native Mexico in 1991 when Sacramento police began investigating allegations that he had molested two girls. After Beltran's flight, the Sacramento diocese removed his faculties. Nevertheless, Beltran is believed to have been working as a priest in remote villages in Mexico, the Sacramento Bee reported this week.
In 2004, the Dallas Morning News published a photograph of Beltran, dressed in an alb, surrounded by children costumed as the Twelve Apostles, after a Mass celebrated in the village of Iqualita, Mexico.
"On numerous occasions the diocese has alerted Church officials in Mexico that Fr. Beltran was a wanted fugitive in California and that his faculties to say Mass have been revoked," said Sacramento Bishop William Weigand in a prepared statement issued March 14.
The bishop said he welcomed news of the arrest. "Beltran's victims will finally have their day in court and finally have the chance to see justice done," said Weigand.
"Since law enforcement first alerted the diocese to the accusations against Fr. Beltran, the diocese has been cooperating in efforts to bring him to justice," the bishop's statement said. "These efforts have included holding public meetings at parishes where Beltran served, encouraging parishioners to come forward with additional information about Beltran or possible Beltran victims, and providing law enforcement officials with whatever information it could to aid investigators."
Two other Sacramento diocesan priests accused of molesting minors, Jose Luis Urbina and Francisco Javier Garcia, remain at large and are believed to be living in Mexico. Urbina was convicted in 1989 of molesting a Sacramento boy, but fled the country before sentencing. In 2005, it was reported that Urbina has served as a priest in Mexico in recent years. Garcia has been accused of molesting children in three Northern California counties. Garcia fled to Mexico in 1995.
Urbina and Garcia were part of a $35 million settlement the Diocese of Sacramento reached with victims in 2005. Weigand said the diocese "will continue to work with civil and Church authorities here and in Mexico to secure the capture and extradition" of the two former priests.
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