GRANGER, WA - The pastor of the Catholic Church in Granger is permanently taken out of his parish by the bishop of the diocese of Yakima after an allegation of abuse that was found by the Diocese to be credible. This is the first abuse allegation against a priest in the diocese of Yakima in 18 years, and they are taking it seriously.
"We know that sexual abuse is a reality throughout our society," said Monsignor Robert Siler, Episcopal Vicar & Chancellor for the Diocese of Yakima. "In our families, in our schools, and in the church too...but we want to make the church a safe place for everyone. Especially for our children and youth."
Bishop Joseph Tyson removed Father Gustavo Gomez Santos from all public ministry, including being a pastor of Our Lady Of Guadalupe Parish in Granger.
"You know, it's a shock for people to hear that someone that they love who has been so kind and good to them could even possibly do this," Monsignor Siler said. "We're just going to continue to reach out to the community and help them to work their way through this."
The allegation of abuse against Father Santos was when he was the pastor at St. Juan Diego in Cowiche. The 21-year-old victim told Yakima County Sheriff's Deputies he was fondled by Father Santos when he was 16, but YSCO can't charge Santos because the statue of limitations is only three years.
The department sent their report to the Diocese, and they then launched their own investigation. Based on evidence, the diocese found the victim's allegations were more likely true than not. Santos had been on a leave of absence since the early part of May.
The Diocese says they offered to pay for the victim to go to counseling, but he declined because he's already getting help at his university but is expected to meet with Diocesian leadership, including Bishop Tyson.
"He has expressed a desire to meet with leadership of the Diocese," said Monsignor Siler. "Bishop Tyson is very open to meeting with him to just express our sorrow at the abuse that has occurred and to ensure him of our prayers and support."
The Diocese does have a sexual abuse reporting hotline at 1-888-276-4490.
Monsignor Siler met with Parishoners after mass in Granger and Mabton yesterday, answering questions about the allegations against Father Santos. At this time, the Diocese says that no one else has come forward about sexual abuse by Father Santos.