|Ex-Seminarian Appears in Court
By Mark Morey
June 6, 2008
A Tieton man accused of viewing child pornography while he was studying to be a Catholic priest in Oregon is scheduled to enter a plea next month.
Juan Jose González Rios, 37, made his first appearance in Marion County Dist-
rict Court in Oregon on Thursday. He remains free without bail, but must avoid non-family contact with minors and must stay off the Internet.
The next hearing was set for July 21, though that could be postponed.
González's attorney, J.J. Sandlin of Zillah, has said his client is innocent of the felony charges. Multiple people had access to the computer González is accused of using, Sandlin said.
A copy of the Oregon indictment, which had been sealed until Thursday's hearing, was not immediately available.
González spent about four years at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon but was dismissed in February 2003 after the seminary reported the pornography allegations to Mount Angel police.
After being dismissed from the seminary, Gon-zález returned to the Yakima diocese, where Bishop Carlos Sevilla hired him for a part-time job at St. Peter Retreat Center in Cowiche. González later took over as the center's full-time director.
Pastors in Yakima and Cowiche also asked him to teach some youth classes, although no allegations have surfaced that he was involved in any inappropriate conduct with youngsters.
Soon after the arrest, Sevilla issued a public apology for knowingly hiring González while he was aware of the ongoing Oregon investigation. Sevilla did not inform local pastors or the lay committee responsible for monitoring abuse cases, which he said he should have done.
Once the criminal case is resolved, González will face an immigration hearing to determine whether he will be allowed to remain in the United States. His religious visa expired in 2005.
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