|Group Decries Catholic Diocese on Child Abuse Case
August 21, 2008
A support group for people abused by clergy said Thursday the case of a Santa Ana priest who tried to seduce a 17-year-old boy with alcohol "smacks of collusion and secrecy on the part of both Catholic and secular authorities."
The Rev. Luis Eduardo Ramirez, the former youth director at Our Lady of the Pillar parish in Santa Ana, took a 17-year-old parishioner to a motel room on Jan. 3, gave him alcohol and then tried to grope him.
In June he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, the Orange County Register reported. As part of a plea bargain with the Anaheim City Attorney's Office, three other misdemeanors — furnishing/selling alcohol to a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and annoying or molesting a child — were dropped.
Ramirez was sentenced Wednesday by Orange County Superior Court Judge Lance Jensen, who called the case a "double betrayal," according to the newspaper.
"The victim and his family have been abused by (both) someone they trust and a person in their religious faith," the judge said. "Your actions have ostracized the family from their Catholic faith."
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests released a statement Thursday saying the public should have been warned about the priest.
"It's very disturbing that a priest is arrested and charged with a child sex crime, yet no church or legal official warns the public," said SNAP Outreach Director Barbara Dorris in a statement from St. Louis. "This smacks of collusion and secrecy on the part of both Catholic and secular authorities.
"We hope that others who saw, suspected or suffered crimes or inappropriate actions by Father Ramirez come forward, call police and get help."
In January, Ramirez brought the boy to an Anaheim motel, gave him tequila, put his head on the boy's lap and tried to reach under the boy's shirt. The boy ran out after Ramirez tried to touch him.
During his sentencing it was revealed that Ramirez had been convicted in 2006 for drunk driving in Orange County and sentenced to three years probation.
Anaheim Assistant City Attorney Patrick Ahle asked the judge to sentence Ramirez to six months in jail.
"This is about someone who is supposed to be a good shepherd tending to his flock," Ahle said. "Instead, he abused one of them for his own gratification."
The priest's attorney, Gary Pohlson, called for leniency, saying Ramirez had gotten about 2,000 letters of support from parishioners.
"He is very remorseful for what he's done to the young man and the pain he's caused the young man's family," Pohlson told the judge.
Ramirez, who is now banned from serving as a priest in the Diocese of Orange, according to the Register, will begin serving his jail sentence Sept. 24. He was also put on three years probation and ordered not to contact the victim or his family.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.