Locally Convicted Priest Working in Oklahoma
By Brie Stimson And Matt Rascon
NBC San Diego
April 23, 2016
More than four years after being convicted of groping a 20-year-old woman in San Diego, a priest is behind a Catholic pulpit again.
Father Jose Alexis Davila had been at St. Jude’s Shrine of the West in Southcrest only two months when he was arrested in 2012. He was later reinstated at St. Jude’s but left by the end of the year.
"Without excusing or justifying his behavior, I think he can now safely and appropriately return to ministry,” Paul S. Coakley, the Archbishop of Oklahoma City where Davila now works, said. “Some actions such as the sexual abuse of a child are so grievous that the perpetrator must be permanently removed from ministry. This was not one of those actions.”
Joelle Casteix, with Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), has followed Davila's case since the original sexual assault charges against him.
“If he knew about Davila’s background and still allowed him to be a priest, that is reckless endangerment, and it should definitely be held accountable,” Casteix said.
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City welcomed Davila to the fold in December.
“I don’t think being a leader means that you are free from the possibility of making mistakes or sins,” Michael Chapman of the archdiocese said.
Archbishop Coakley said Davila’s job came after a full investigation, including a background check, probationary period and lengthy interviews with leaders from where Davila has served.
Still, Davila's background was news to many church members in Oklahoma City.
Janet Bullard said she may be looking for a new congregation now.
“It's hurtful this kind of stuff," Bullard said. "It puts a stain on the church. Most of these people are good decent people, and these scandals really hurt a lot of people and really ran a lot of people out of the church.”
Casteix said she’s calling on the archbishop to remove Davila from the pulpit for good.
Davila pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in 2012 and was sentenced to three years’ probation.