Priest Arrested on Warrant
February 18, 2002
A Catholic priest wanted in California on accusations of having improper sexual relations with a teenager was taken into custody Saturday in Hartford, where he has been undergoing behavioral treatment for the past two months, law enforcement and church officials said.
The Rev. Oskar Pelaez, 35, was arrested Saturday by Hartford police at an undisclosed treatment facility in the city, police said Sunday. He was being held at Hartford police headquarters Sunday night with bail set at $500,000.
Pelaez was dispatched to Hartford in November by the Most Rev. Stephen E. Blaire, the bishop of the Stockton, Calif., diocese. Blaire announced to his parishioners Sunday that he sent Pelaez to Hartford when the teenager lodged the allegations of sexual impropriety against the priest.
Most recently, Pelaez served as pastor at a church in Turlock, Calif., but Blaire told parishioners that the allegations dated back as far as four to five years ago.
Turlock police, who obtained the arrest warrant charging Pelaez in the case, said they would release more details at a press conference Tuesday. Hartford police said more details about Pelaez's arrest, as well as his treatment in Hartford, would be released today.
The allegations against Pelaez come at a controversial time for the Catholic church, which recently identified as many as 80 priests in the Boston archdiocese suspected of abusing children over the past 40 years. Also, Catholic leaders in Manchester, N.H., announced Friday that at least 14 priests were suspected of molesting children over the past 25 years.
CORRECTION-DATE: February 20, 2002
A Catholic priest from California who was arrested in Hartford Saturday for being a fugitive from justice is named the Rev. Oscar Pelaez. His first name was misspelled as Oskar in a story on Page B1 Monday and in a news brief on Page B6 Tuesday.
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