Transferred Priest Sought in Sex Abuse

By Bill Dries
Commercial Appeal [Memphis, TN]
September 25, 2004

A former Catholic priest accused in a civil lawsuit of sexually abusing a Memphis teenager is wanted by police in St. Louis for sodomizing a boy there within two years of his transfer out of the Memphis diocese after similar allegations of child sexual abuse.

Juan Carlos Duran, 44, is also the target of a federal investigation for another allegation of child sexual abuse, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper.

The new allegations raise questions about statements by Catholic officials in Memphis in August that Duran was moved out of the Memphis area for medical treatment and to protect children.

"We were protecting the children," Rev. Richard Mickey said in August of Duran's 2000 transfer out of Memphis. "It's a sacred trust that we as priests have. It wasn't hiding something. It was protecting."

Mickey has since been accused in another civil lawsuit of sexually abusing twin brothers Blain and Blair Chambers in 1980 when they were students at Bishop Byrne High School and Mickey was a teacher and counselor there.

Diocesan officials in Memphis and St. Louis could not be reached late Friday.

Duran is charged with statutory sodomy in the first degree in a warrant issued Wednesday in Missouri.

He is accused of having sex with a boy in his car when the boy was 10-13 years old, sometime between 1999 and 2002, the Post-Dispatch reported Friday. The boy, whose name is not included in the court records of the warrant, is now 15.

At the time of the alleged incident, Duran was a priest at St. Francis de Sales Church, a parish he was assigned to after he was abruptly transferred out of the Memphis diocese following similar allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

The federal investigation involves yet another allegation of a sexual encounter between Duran and a boy during a Chicago area religious retreat, the St. Louis newspaper reported.

Duran is believed to be living in Bolivia, where he has family, according to police in St. Louis and previous statements by Memphis diocesan officials.

An unidentified man filed a civil lawsuit in Shelby County Circuit Court in July against Catholic Bishop J. Terry Steib, the Dominican order and Duran alleging that in 2000 when the plaintiff was a 14-year-old parishioner at Church of the Ascension in Raleigh, Duran, whose name was spelled Durran in the complaint, sexually abused him.

At the time, Duran was a Dominican friar living at the rectory of St. Peter Catholic Church but was assigned to Ascension. Mickey was pastor of Ascension at the time.

The lawsuit alleges Duran was moved out of Memphis "to avoid public scandal and criminal/civil prosecution."



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