|Priest Who Molested Boys Won't Serve Again
By A.J. Flick
May 15, 2008
A former Tucson priest who pleaded guilty Tuesday to molesting three boys will never serve in the ministry again, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson announced.
The Rev. Gary Edward Underwood, 53, "will not return to active service as a priest," Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said Tuesday in a statement.
Underwood, who had been suspended while his criminal case proceeded, pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual abuse of a minor. Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Nichols will sentence Underwood on Aug. 4.
"I am deeply saddened by Rev. Underwood's admitted behavior," Kicanas said in his statement. "I pray that those who have been harmed by Rev. Underwood's actions will find healing."
Kicanas urged anyone who thinks he might have been abused by Underwood or any other priest to call the diocese's Victim Assistance Program, 623-0344, for counseling.
Kicanas said the diocese reported Underwood's suspected crimes to the police after learning of complaints against him.
Underwood had been facing 12 sex-related charges involving three boys, court records show.
He is free on bond while awaiting sentencing.
Underwood, who was ordained in 1980, served at St. Odilia Catholic Church, 7570 N. Paseo del Norte, from 1983 through 1986, diocese spokesman Fred Allison said.
After serving for several months in Casa Grande, Underwood volunteered for the Archdiocese of the Military at the end of 1987, Allison said.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2004 after lawsuits were filed over the sexual misconduct allegations.
In 2005, the diocese agreed to pay $22.3 million to more than 50 victims of sexual abuse by priests.
"I welcome the opportunity to meet with any of those harmed by Rev. Underwood to express to them personally my apology and profound sorrow for what happened to them," Kicanas said in his statement.
"Our diocese is committed to maintaining safe environments for children in our parishes and schools," he said. "Continued attention and commitment to procedures now in place are critical and I pray will prevent such harm from happening again."
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