Priest Is Sought by Police in Sex Case His Whereabouts Called Unknown

By David Harpster
San Diego Union-Tribune
November 15, 1993

Parishioners at the Church of the Most Precious Blood here reacted with surprise and sadness yesterday after learning that a former associate priest at the church is being sought for questioning about possible sexual misconduct with a teen-ager.

The Rev. Emmanuel Omemaga, a 35-year-old priest on temporary loan to the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego from the Philippines, has been asked to contact Chula Vista police in connection with the accusations, according to a statement issued by the diocese.

However, he has not yet done so, and church officials say they do not know his whereabouts.

The allegations involve an underage girl who is a member of the Chula Vista congregation.

Omemaga had been an associate priest at the 4th Avenue church for about a year, said the Rev. Frank Wagner, the current parish priest.

Omemaga stepped down from his duties in the San Diego Diocese about a month ago, after the accusations surfaced, Wagner said.

But the church only officially released information about the investigation yesterday, with Wagner announcing the allegations to his congregation during morning services.

"Their reaction was shock and sadness," Wagner said, "and disbelief as well."

In a release from the San Diego Diocese that he read to church members, Wagner said that Bishop Robert Brom took prompt action when informed of the matter a month ago.

Omemaga surrendered his permission to function in the diocese on Oct. 8 pending further investigation, and he returned to the Philippines to inform his bishop of the situation, Wagner said.

When Omemaga returned to San Diego last week, he contacted the Rev. Stephen Callahan, assistant to Bishop Brom, who conveyed Brom's directive that Omemaga remain in San Diego and contact police.

Wagner said church officials are cooperating fully with the police investigation.

The girl has been offered "pastoral and professional assistance," he added.

Chula Vista police refused to comment on the case yesterday. However, detectives plan to release a statement today, a police spokesman said last night.


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