One NY-area priest convicted, another steps down on abuse charges
June 29, 2016
|Former priest Jose Lopez goes through security at the Passaic Municipal Court on Friday. He was in court on charges of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.|
A former priest in Paterson, N.J., has been convicted of luring and criminal sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl, while a priest in Long Island has voluntarily stepped down during an investigation of an allegation of sexual abuse from years ago.
Two New York-area developments illustrate the ongoing fallout from the child sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, with the conviction of a former Paterson, N.J., priest for criminal sexual contact with an adolescent girl and the suspension of a current Long Island pastor over an abuse charge.
The former New Jersey priest was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual contact after authorities say he lured a 14-year-old girl to his living quarters and molested her.
A Passaic County jury convicted Jose Lopez of luring Tuesday, but found him not guilty of attempted sexual assault.
Prosecutors say Lopez took the girl into his living quarters at St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Passaic in 2013 and touched her inappropriately.
Lopez has denied that he touched her sexually.
Defense attorney James Porfido says Lopez often hugged and kissed the girl near her mother. He says the interactions were never sexual.
Porfido says he’s shocked by the verdict.
Lopez faces up to 16 years in prison at his November sentencing.
Another priest, Edgar Ruiz, was publicly criticized in 2013 by a lawyer representing the Diocese of Paterson for failing to report the incident to Church authorities after the teenage girl involved informed him of it.
“That was a major league mistake and violation of our policies, procedures and guidelines,” said the lawyer, Ken Mullaney.
Separately, prosecutors in New York are investigating allegations that a Long Island Catholic priest had sexually abused a minor years ago.
Newsday reports that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said Tuesday it received a complaint from the Diocese of Rockville Centre regarding the allegations against Father Frank Parisi.
Parisi has been pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in Malverne for the past 11 years.
In a note published in the June 19 parish bulletin, Parisi said he was voluntarily stepping down until “I have been cleared” of the allegations.
The diocese informed its parishioners that it only recently was informed of the alleged misconduct. It says it occurred many years ago at another parish.