Ex-priest in San Jose Diocese Sex-abuse Report in Jail on Molest Charges
By Megan Cassidy
San Francisco Chronicle
October 19, 2018
|Hernan Toro, a former priest pictured here in his sex offender registry photo, is facing six charges of felony child molestation out of Santa Clara County.|
One of 15 former priests named by the Diocese of San Jose this week as credibly accused child sex abusers is facing new allegations of molesting young girls in Santa Clara County.
The diocese report made public Thursday states that 90-year-old Hernan Toro was convicted of sexual misconduct with a child 35 years ago while in Santa Clara. He went on to spend seven more years working in South Bay and Peninsula churches before being permanently banned from the ministry in 1990, church officials said.
But the report makes no note of the current allegations against Toro, who is now in jail and accused of molesting two girls between 2011 and 2015.
In an email Friday, Diocese of San Jose spokeswoman Liz Sullivan said the church was not aware of the current allegations against Toro. She did not respond to requests for comment about how the diocese conducted its research on the former priests’ current whereabouts.
The diocese report lists Toro’s whereabouts as San Leandro, but records show he has been held at the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose since October 2017. The California Department of Justice sex offender registry lists Toro’s last known address as San Leandro, but it also notes that he is “in violation” of Megan’s Law.
Toro is one of six of the 15 named ex-priests still living, and all of them have been permanently banned from ministry.
The first five charges of molestation against Toro were based on allegations from the first girl, who was between 4 and 6 years old in 2011, according to court records. The sixth charge stemmed from a 2016 allegation from a second girl, who was 11 at the time.
Toro was initially convicted of sexual misconduct with a child in 1983, while he was at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Santa Clara County. He registered as a sex offender that same year but was also allowed to immediately return to the church, the diocese report shows.
He was at St. Athanasius Parish in Mountain View from 1983 to 1984; St. Catherine Parish in Morgan Hill from 1984 to 1986; St. Aloysius Parish in Palo Alto from 1986 to 1988; and in Detention Ministry from 1988 to 1990, the report states.
In a statement Thursday, San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath said he expressed his “deepest apologies for the actions of those who were in positions of authority and who violated that sacred trust by abusing children. The sexual abuse of children and young people is an appalling crime and a sin. When these perpetrators are members of the clergy, there are not only psychological wounds but spiritual wounds.”
Abuse survivors and their advocates said McGrath’s words were inadequate. Many have called for a probe to be conducted by outside authorities, similar to what’s happening in Pennsylvania. In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury published a bombshell report on the systemic cover-up of child sex abuse by diocesan leaders in the state and at the Vatican.
Bishop Michael C. Barber, of the Oakland Diocese, said he will also release a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse in the coming weeks. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco hasn’t committed to such a move, but he said he is considering it.