Victim Believed in Priests Who Hurt Him

By Virginia Hennessey
Monterey Herald
July 19, 2009

As a young boy in Mexico, "John Doe" dreamed of being a Catholic priest.

Even after he was molested by his pastor in Yuma, Ariz., he wanted to be ordained, believing "Padre Juan" was God on Earth, only with an evil side.

The dream died, along with his faith, when he moved to Salinas and was victimized again in another parish by another priest.

In its place are nightmares in which he beats Catholic clergy with baseball bats. He keeps a real bat under his bed to this day. He's 29.

In a deposition released as part of his $1.2 million settlement with the Diocese of Monterey, John Doe, as he was identified in court, reveals the pain, confusion and shame he felt growing up as the victim of the men he believed were holy.

That trust was shattered, he said, when he learned that his silence, manipulated by one of his abusers and another priest in the diocese, had resulted in the subsequent abuse of his younger brother.

A college student by that time, John reported the molestations to Yuma police. The Rev. Juan Guillen, his pastor in Arizona, is now serving a 10-year prison sentence there.

It was too late to punish his other abuser, however. Depositions by Monterey diocese officials confirm that the Rev. John Velez was hustled out of Salinas' Christ the King parish and, after a failed suicide, ushered across the border.

He has not been defrocked, but his whereabouts are uncertain.

John Doe testified that he came to the United States with his parents when he was 8, settling first in Yuma. Guillen, Padre Juan, immediately solicited him as an altar boy. Soon he began molesting him.

A trusted member of the family, Guillen continued molesting and sexually assaulting the boy into his high school years. When his parents moved periodically to Salinas and Guillen visited, he slept in the boy's room.

"It's hard for people to understand what a priest used to mean to us," he testified. "He was like God on Earth."

John and his family later moved to Salinas. Devout Catholics, they began to attend Christ the King, known as Cristo Rey to its largely migrant parishioners.

Then a mission of Sacred Heart parish, the church had no pastor. The Rev. Manuel Canal was its administrator. Soon a new priest was assigned to help him, Padre John Velez.

'I was just a little boy'

Like Guillen before him, Velez recruited young John Doe to be an altar boy. His mother encouraged him, thinking it an honor. And, like Guillen before him, Velez began molesting the boy, then 11.

"He used similar tactics," John Doe testified. "They have a method of using confession and advice to tell you how you need to spend time with them and be a good person, and then he began the physical part."

After a few months, the conduct grew "harsher."

"I didn't know what was going on," he said. "I was just a little boy."

Ironically, he turned to Guillen.

"When I wasn't with (Guillen) ... physically, he was a priest and he was a good person, but then when I was with him, he was still a priest but he had ... an evil side," John explained.

"As a boy, I remember, when he would start, I remember thinking to myself, 'Here it goes' and ... I would try to leave mentally. I wasn't there when it happened."

'My mom was tricked'

So when the molestations by Velez escalated, John Doe called Guillen in Arizona, where, not a physical threat, he was trusted.

"He said he would help me and he would talk to my mom," John Doe testified. "But he said not to say anything."

Alarmed that his own misconduct could be revealed, Guillen called John Doe's mother and told her what happened but told her not to say anything until he got there. He flew from Arizona the next day. John Doe's mother paid for his flight.

He told her and her husband to ask the diocese to pay for their son's therapy. They had a meeting with the Rev. Gregory Sandman, pastor of Sacred Heart, and diocese attorney Al Ham.

John Doe's mother later told him Sandman and Ham laughed at his parents' request.

Sandman "told her something along the lines that it wasn't a big deal, that it happened to a lot of kids, and that she should just let it go and I would eventually forget it."

His parents then returned home to Guillen, who told them they should allow him to counsel their son because he was a "psychologist" who could treat John without causing him to lose his faith.

"So that's how my mom was tricked by both," he said, adding that Guillen then continued to molest him for years. "She was told by Guillen and by (Father) Gregory not to mention anything to me, and somebody should have ... so as a kid, I would have had a door."

'Nobody was there'

In his deposition, Ham testified that, during his meeting with the parents, he and Sandman offered to provide their son therapy, which was turned down. They wanted money to procure their own counselor.

Asked if he was ever told the diocese had offered him counseling, John Doe said: "No ... but I wish they would have ... if they would have, the abuse that kept happening with Guillen would have stopped ... as a kid, I needed something or someone and nobody was there."

Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 753-6751 or


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