Priest Accused of Indecency with a Child

By Monica Merced
El Paso Times
June 6, 1999

A priest from a South-Central El Paso parish was charged Friday with indecency with a child during the summer of 1998.

Jose Alfredo Olivas, 44, had been at Santo Ni?o de Atocha Church at Clark and Geiger for about seven years, said the Rev. Richard A. Matty, chancellor for the Diocese of El Paso. He said he couldn't discuss the case beyond a prepared statement from the diocese.

The priest was arrested Friday night. Olivas' bond was set at $30,000, and he was released from El Paso County Jail at midnight Friday.

"We really are cautious about saying anything at this point," Matty said. He did say the church's investigation was spurred when the family of the alleged victim came forward.

The statement, which Matty said will be read at services at the church this morning, reads in part: "Our Church has consistently promoted healing for those who are hurt and suffering. ... It follows, then, that our Catholic Church in El Paso takes most seriously allegations of indecency by one ministering within the Diocese."

The statement said that Olivas was placed on administrative leave about two weeks ago and that the allegation was being investigated.

"This time of administrative leave as well as the investigation should not be considered as a judgment of guilt," the statement says.

Police spokesman Al Velarde could not give any more information about the case than what was released by his department, a three-sentence statement that Olivas had been arrested, the date of the alleged offense and the bond set for the suspect.

The church has a Claims Resolution Committee of "lay professionals in the field of psychology and social service" that is investigating, the diocese statement says. Those people will make a recommendation to the bishop about the "truth and scope of the allegations."

The Rev. Joe Molina will serve the parish while the investigation takes place, Matty said.

Many in the church's neighborhood said they didn't believe the charges.

"It's definitely a concern," said Gary DeLeon, who is a member of the Knights of Columbus at Olivas' church. But he said he would not believe the charges unless they're proved in court.

Mario Castillo, who lived next door to Olivas for five years, also thinks he's innocent.

She remembers Olivas having holiday parties at his home and that during the holidays the house was full of children.

Mario Castillo Jr., 16, said he thinks Olivas is innocent.

"I've always talked to him. He encouraged me to play football, basketball. ... He's never tried anything. He never touched me," Castillo said.


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