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  Priest Charged with Molesting 14-Year-Old Girl

By Dwight C. Daniels and Sandi Dolbee
San Diego Union-Tribune
November 18, 1993

A Catholic priest has been charged with more than 40 sexual misconduct charges involving a 14-year-old girl in his former Chula Vista parish.

A complaint filed against the Rev. Emmanuel Omemaga accuses the priest of having lewd and lascivious contact with the teen in August and September, said Mitch Himaka, a spokesman for the county District Attorney's Office.

The charges — 39 felony and 2 misdemeanor counts — include oral copulation, forcible rape, rape with a foreign object, taking lewd pictures and statutory rape, Himaka added.

Investigators have said sexually explicit photographs of the girl — which Omemaga is suspected of taking — were found during a search of the priest's rooms at a local rectory.

Omemaga, who is on temporary loan to the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego from the Philippines, is still being sought by Chula Vista authorities. Detectives still "don't know where he is at this point," Himaka said.

The 35-year-old priest was an associate pastor at the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Chula Vista, the church the girl and her family attend, at the time of the alleged misconduct.

The girl's mother contacted San Diego diocese officials and police last month after her daughter told her the priest had molested her.

Omemaga, who had since been transferred to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lakeside in a routine reassignment, was immediately called in to the diocese offices and told by Bishop Robert Brom that his authority to perform priestly duties had been revoked.

Days later, Omemaga traveled to his native Philippines to meet with his home diocese's bishop and then returned to San Diego, presumably to cooperate with authorities.

About two weeks ago, Omemaga met with the Rev. Stephen Callahan, a liaison for Bishop Brom. Callahan said he repeatedly urged the priest to turn himself in to Chula Vista police.

During their conversation, Omemaga asked Callahan what might happen if the priest were to avoid local authorities and return to his native Philippines.

"I told him I did not know ... I just urged him to speak to the police," Callahan said. "It is still our hope that he'll turn himself in."

The church officially told parishioners about the allegations during a morning worship service at the 4th Avenue church last weekend. The church members reacted in stunned disbelief, some breaking into tears at the news about the respected and well-liked clergyman.

Sim Silverio, publisher of The San Diego Asian Journal, a newspaper that circulates among some 100,000 Filipinos in the area, said news of the charges against the priest has "left us all very dismayed."

"It's a shock to us all," he said "We're a tightknit community, and we're very, very disappointed by this."

 
 

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