Woodburn Priest Accused of Sex Abuse Was Ordained in Oregon, Popular Among Parishioners
By Everton Bailey Jr.
August 13, 2012
|The Rev. Angel Armando Perez, photographed in 2002. He was 36 at the time.|
|Rev. Angel Armando Perez|
A Woodburn priest has been arrested on allegations of sex abuse involving a minor.
The Rev. Angel Armando Perez, 46, the parish priest at St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn, was arrested after police responded to a complaint at about 1:30 a.m. Monday alleging inappropriate contact between the priest and a 12-year-old boy.
Perez faces accusations of sexual abuse, use of a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct and furnishing alcohol to a minor. He was booked into Marion County Jail Monday evening.
The age and identity of the alleged victim have not been released.
"Anytime allegations like this are made, it's a tragedy for everyone involved, potential victims, priests, for everyone," said Bud Bunce, a spokesman for the archdiocese. He refused to comment further, saying he didn't have details of the arrest.
Criminal sex abuse charges against priests are rare in Oregon. The Rev. Thomas Laughlin was convicted of molesting two boys in Multnomah County in 1983, the first and only time a Catholic priest has faced criminal charges in Oregon.
Neither Bunce nor Kelly Clark, a leading attorney for sex abuse victims who have sued the Catholic Church, could recall any other criminal prosecutions of Oregon priests since the Laughlin case.
Perez, the Archdiocese of Portland's first priest of Mexican descent, has been pastor of St. Luke Parish since 2008.
Perez was ordained by Archbishop John G. Vlazny in St. Mary's Cathedral in 2002, in the presence of a dozen relatives who had traveled from Chicago for the rite.
He was born in 1965 in La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico, and graduated from high school there.
Perez entered Mount Angel Seminary in 1996. As a seminarian, he worked at Oregon State Hospital, St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Astoria, St. John the Apostle Parish in Oregon City and St. Anne Parish in Grants Pass.
Monsignor Gregory Moys, a pastor at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in St. Paul, said Perez was his assistant for one year while he completed a pastoral internship at St. Anne Parish.
Since Perez left, Moys said he sees him about once a year. He described the Woodburn priest as someone who seemed very concerned about the Grants Pass community while he was there, including the Hispanic population. Moys also said Perez had a personality that "people seemed to naturally flock to."
"What he's being accused of is unsettling, that's for sure," said Moys. "But we all have weak links in our human nature."
In a 2002 profile of Perez in The Oregonian, Perez described his early faith, his upbringing with his grandparents after his parents left for the United States, his two years teaching high school during a pause from his seminary course, and his eventual move to Oregon.
He recounted a sermon in Corvallis in which he nervously addressed parishioners in heavily accented but fluent English. In that sermon, he told them he would be a priest for all, not just Latinos.
"I said to to them, my faith is very strong, that even though we have these problems in the church right now, these sex scandals, I really believe the Holy Spirit sustains us," Perez told The Oregonian at the time.
The Marion County District Attorney's Office is involved in the incident's investigation, said Officer Mike Araiza, spokesman for the Woodburn Police Department.
Anyone with more information on Monday's incident is asked to contact Woodburn Police Det. Rick Puente at 503-982-2345.