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  Suit Targets Former Priest
Man Seeks $20 Million, Claiming He Was Sexually Abused in 1967

By Dane Schiller
San Antonio Express-News [Texas]
March 8, 2004

After a church report that 20 area priests have been accused of sexually abusing minors in the past five decades, a man who grew up in San Antonio is pushing ahead with a $20 million lawsuit claiming that in 1967 he was raped by the then-pastor at St. Timothy Church.

The lawsuit names the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate order and Father Alfredo Prado, 73, who has drawn attention for being dismissed from the Oblates and for celebrating Mass with the San Antonio followers of a purported visionary in Costa Rica.

Neither the church nor Prado, who served at St. Timothy's from 1965 to 1968 and again in 1971, will say why he was removed from the Oblates.

The lawsuit's plaintiff, Ricardo Salinas, 50, who lives in California, where the lawsuit was filed in state court, said he was regularly counseled by Prado when he was a 14-year-old student at Jeremiah Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio.

After an argument with his father, Salinas said he again sought Prado's help.

In an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Salinas reiterated the allegations he makes in the lawsuit.

"He (Prado) offered me a large tumbler of brandy, and the next thing I know he's got his hands all over me and is kissing me," said Salinas, who also said he was sodomized.

"He kept telling me it was our little secret and not to tell anyone because they won't believe me anyway," Salinas said.

"God was dead. As far as I was concerned, God was dead."

The lawsuit contends the Oblates knew Prado was a "serial rapist" and did not keep him away from minors.

Prado, who lives in Costa Rica, couldn't be reached to respond to the lawsuit. However, he told the Express-News in December that he never molested anyone and that accusations against him were an attempt to get church money.

"A lot of people are hunting for money, so they come up and they sound good," Prado said. "I have nothing to say to them. I pray for them."

Prado has never been charged with a crime. The priest's supporters have said that years ago he was sent to church-run counseling and given a clean bill of health.

The Oblates declined to comment on the lawsuit, as did their lawyer.

Salinas, meanwhile, stands by his version of events. He said his parents didn't believe him, and that at the time it was unheard of to call the police about a priest.

"To think that I could have the temerity to accuse such a holy man branded me as an evil person who could never be trusted," Salinas said.

He said he has undergone years of counseling, has suffered from depression and doesn't trust authority because of Prado.

Salinas was able to sue because of a move by the California Legislature that suspended until December 2003 the statute of limitations on lawsuits involving the sexual assault of minors. The lawsuit was filed the day before the deadline.

Salinas' lawyer, Justin Schwartz of Oakland, Calif., said the lawsuit wasn't so much about money, but righting a wrong.

"If he (Salinas) could jump in a time machine and go back and avoid having this happen to him, he would gladly do that in lieu of any monetary award," he said.

Schwartz declined to discuss any evidence in the case.

The San Antonio Archdiocese said recently that more than $5.2 million was paid from 1950 to 2002 in settlements and counseling linked to sexual abuse of minors and clergy members.

The admission came as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a report on the extent of the sexual abuse crisis throughout the nation and a second report on its causes and effects.

San Antonio's reported cases involved allegations against 20 priests made by 58 victims from 1950 to 2002.

Prado was not on that list because he was a member of the Oblates and not officially connected with the archdiocese.

 
 

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