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  Corona Cleric on Leave after Sexual Incident

By Jenny Cardenas
Press Enterprise
January 6, 1994
Father Anthony Garduno, an associate pastor at St. Edwards
Catholic Church in Corona for the last year, agreed over the
weekend to go on administrative leave after acknowledging that he
had had sexual contact with an adult, according to a spokesman for
the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino.

Catholic priests are forbidden by church doctrine from having
sexual contact of any kind. Garduno, 35, is the fifth area Catholic
priest to be placed on administrative leave in the last 16 months
after allegations of sexual misconduct. The four others were
accused of having sexual contact with minors.
Diocese spokesman the Rev. Howard Lincoln said that Garduno
acknowledged being involved in sexual activity while he was
performing his duties as a priest in Corona in the past year.

Lincoln declined to identify the adult involved. He said the
diocese has offered assistance to the person.

St. Edwards', the diocese's largest parish, was left with two
priests, two fewer than usual, Lincoln said. Pastor Bob Buchanan
left the parish last week on sabbatical. Buchanan had announced in
the fall that he was leaving the parish.

The diocese will send priests from other parts of the region to
say Masses at St. Edwards, Lincoln said. The parish has 11 masses
on Sunday.

Garduno's departure was a sad event for parishioners, said
Virginia Coriddi, a long-time St. Edwards parishioner and a
volunteer at the downtown Corona church. "He was a real caring
priest and a lot of people wanted to see him be the pastor," she
said.

Coriddi said she is among a growing number of Catholics who
want the Vatican to allow priests to marry. When Buchanan announced
that he was leaving the church, he said he was frustrated because
the church will not open discussions on the issue.

Coriddi said a pastor is to be named in July. Until then,
Sister Marie O'Connor is in charge of the parish, Lincoln said.

Another parishioner, Rosa Martinez of Home Gardens, said
Garduno was well liked in her community as well. "He is very loved
and respected as a priest and a teacher," she said.

Garduno's fate is not clear yet, Lincoln said. The diocese has
taken away Garduno's duties as a priest, but continues to pay him
his approximately $ 540 monthly salary and is giving him room and
board, the spokesman said.

Diocese officials will determine what help Garduno needs and
whether he can ever go back to his duties as a priest, Lincoln said.

Lincoln said there is no explanation for the rash of priest
resignations following allegations of sexual activity in the last
16 months.

He said the diocese has promised parishioners that it will
notify them whenever such an allegation is made. The diocese is
doing that, he said.

Bishop Phillip F. Straling, who has served as bishop for the
Diocese of San Bernardino for 15 years, could not be reached for
comment yesterday. He was at a retreat, Lincoln said.

Troubled diocese
Five priests have either resigned or left the church in the
Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino under allegations of sexual
misconduct over the last 16 months. Here is a chronology of those
incidents:
o September 1992: The Rev. Edward Ball of Our Lady of Fatima Church
in San Bernardino left the church after he was charged with lewd
acts involving children. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of
lewd conduct with altar boys and no contest to a third lewd conduct
charge. He was sentenced to 270 days in jail and five years'
probation.

o February 1993: The Rev. James Stauber resigned from his post at St.

John's Catholic Church in Rubidoux after he was put on
administrative leave. Stauber resigned without admitting any
wrongdoing after he was accused of having had sex with a minor when
he was a priest in another state. He joined the local diocese about
12 years ago.

o February 1993: The Rev. Paul Nguyen left his post as pastor of St.

Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Riverside after he was accused
of sexual misconduct with a minor. He is believed to be in Oslo,
Norway
o April 1993: The Rev. Rudi Gil resigned from St. Frances of Rome
Catholic Church in Lake Elsinore and was placed on administrative
leave by the diocese after an allegation was made that he was
involved in sexual misconduct with a minor six years before.

o Jan. 2, 1994: Corona's St. Edward's Catholic Church parishioners
were told during Sunday Masses that Father Anthony Garduno had
agreed to be put on administrative leave and that he had admitted
having sexual contact with an adult.

 
 

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