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  Priest Jailed for Sex Abuse
The 72-Year-Old Gets Six Months for Groping a Teenage Girl Last Summer

By Rachanee Srisavasdi
Orange County Register
April 3, 2004

A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to six months in jail and three years' probation Friday for molesting a 15-year-old girl in her parents' car as they drove him to a series of private Masses.

Gerardo Jarencio Tanilong, 72, is the first priest convicted and sentenced in Orange County on a sexual-assault charge, prosecutors said.

Superior Court Judge Richard Stanford Jr. said the crime appeared to be "an isolated incident," but he added that it was aggravated because of Tanilong's position of trust.

"Because of that ... there must be consequences," Stanford said before issuing the jail sentence.

Dressed in a white shirt and blue blazer, Tanilong wiped away a tear as the judge said Tanilong must register as a sex offender.

Tanilong, who begins his jail sentence May 17, declined to speak in court or after the hearing.

A priest in his native Philippines and Orange County for more than 40 years, Tanilong was removed from permanent ministry when he pleaded guilty in January to groping the girl last summer. At the time, he was serving at Our Lady of Guadalupe-Delhi in Santa Ana and had known the victim and her family for 2 1/2 years.

The day after the encounter, the victim's parents confronted Tanilong.

The priest apologized to them in a probation report released Friday.

"Even at the beginning ... I had a desire to (cooperate) with the investigative process by telling the truth. And the truth shall set you free," Tanilong said.

The victim no longer trusts priests or attends Mass, her father said in the probation report.

"This is the one person we thought we could trust to put our faith in, our priest. ... Our daughter has been scarred by this crime."

 
 

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