|Priest Who Fondled Mamaroneck Parishioner Avoids Jail - but 'Shame on You,' Judge Says
By Rebecca Baker
The Journal News
January 13, 2010
MAMARONECK (NY) --
A judge told the Rev. Richard Ordonez that he should be ashamed of himself for fondling a parishioner at a Mamaroneck church after she went to him for marriage counseling.
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"As a priest, shame on you," state Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Cohen said Tuesday. "As a counselor, shame on you. As a human being, shame on you."
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Ordonez, a 38-year-old Ecuadorean cleric, offered no apology as he was given a conditional discharge as part of a negotiated agreement with Westchester County prosecutors.
Ordonez had pleaded guilty to forcible touching, a misdemeanor, in exchange for no jail time. He was originally charged with felony counts of sex abuse and attempted sex abuse.
Ordonez, who counseled the victim from Jan. 12 to 23, 2004, was accused of grabbing her breasts and trying to sexually abuse her at St. Vito's Roman Catholic Church on Underhill Avenue. She fled the counseling session and avoided him, authorities said.
Police said the woman came forward in September 2008 after learning that Ordonez, who had left the area, was returning to the parish. Ordonez was arrested Dec. 8, 2008, at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He was about to board a plane with a one-way ticket to Ecuador. He knew he was under investigation and had given a statement to police two days earlier.
Assistant District Attorney Julia Cornachio said the victim only wanted Ordonez to admit his guilt and was not seeking "vengeance ."
Cohen was a Westchester judge when he presided over Ordonez's case and returned from Orange County Court to pronounce the sentence. He ordered Ordonez to stay away from the victim and to finish his 500 hours of community service this year. Ordonez has served 248 hours of service so far.
Parishioners from St. Vito's and from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Elmsford, where Ordonez also served as a visiting priest, were in the courtroom to support him. Ordonez, who has no criminal record and was in this country legally, had been credited with reaching out to the Hispanic immigrant population.
"I believe in him," said Carmen Negron of Elmsford. "Our trust is in him. He's always been here for us."
Ordonez, a member of the Salesians order, had his privileges to serve as a priest revoked, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
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