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  Douglas Priest Accused in Molesting Cases

By Patty Machelor
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
February 8, 2003

A Douglas priest has been arrested on child molestation and attempted child molestation charges in two unrelated cases.

The Rev. Julian Sanz, pastor of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Douglas, turned himself in shortly after noon on Friday.

Sanz, 53, faces two counts of child molestation and three counts of attempted child molestation related to allegations from last year and from 1982.

He was being held in the Cochise County Jail Friday night on a bond of $75,000.

The Catholic Diocese of Tucson placed Sanz on administrative leave and suspended him from public ministry after an investigation began in October.

In a letter posted on the Diocese's Web site Friday, Bishop Manuel D. Moreno and coadjutor Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas urged parishioners not to be divided by the new cases.

"Honest sharing of opinions and feelings, with respect for each person's position, seeking to understand rather than to convince, will build bonds rather than tear down," Manuel and Kicanas wrote. "That is our counsel to you, and to ourselves."

Diocese spokesman Fred Allison said Moreno and Kicanas plan to visit Douglas parishioners Sunday.

Sanz, a diocesan priest since 1994, is a native of Spain who came to Arizona in 1980 as a member of the Missionaries of Our Lady of LaSallette.

He served at St. Bernard Parish in Pirtleville outside Douglas until 1984. Sanz is accused of molesting an 11-year-old altar boy in this parish twice in 1982. Douglas police Lt. Carlos Guido said the other alleged victim is a 15-year-old boy who reported in October that Sanz had abused him in August.

Guido said Sanz faces three counts of attempted child molestation related to that case.

Sanz, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1977, became pastor of Immaculate Conception in Douglas in July 2001.

He also has ministered at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma, at Sacred Heart Parish in Clifton, at St. Joseph Parish in Wellton and St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in San Luis.

Diocese spokesman Allison said Sanz was the second diocesan priest to be placed on administrative leave last year.

The other was the Rev. Juan Guillen, an associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Yuma.

Guillen is facing 12 felony charges in Yuma County related to allegations that he molested three boys beginning in 1988, one case allegedly occurring as recently as last summer.

Guillen was bonded out of jail in October by parishioners who raised money to post 10 percent of the $108,023 bail amount.

Allison said the diocese does not provide bail money or any legal representation to the accused priests.

Sanz's name brings to 19 the number of priests on a Catholic Diocese of Tucson list of clergy facing "credible" accusations of sexual misconduct with minors.

The Pima County Attorney's Office also is investigating allegations involving Monsignor Robert C. Trupia and the Rev. Michael Teta, priests named in 11 civil actions settled earlier this year that alleged local clergy sexually molested young men and altar boys in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

The settlement was confidential, but experts familiar with the case estimate the diocese paid up to $16 million.

 
 

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