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  Criminal Case against Ex-Priest Is Pending
Sex Abuse: The District Attorney Is Reviewing Allegations against Jesus A. Dominguez

By Michael Fisher
The Press-Enterprise
December 18, 2004

Prosecutors are considering whether to file charges against a former Inland priest accused in civil litigation of sexually abusing six teenage boys, Riverside County sheriff's officials said.

Over the past several months, detectives in Perris have been investigating molestation accusations targeting Jesus A. Dominguez, Riverside County sheriff's Lt. Peter Herrera said. Their findings were forwarded to the Riverside County district attorney's office for review earlier this month, he said.

"We worked a case that is currently at the DA's office, and they will decide whether or not to prosecute the case," said Herrera, who did not have any specifics on the accusations.

Prosecutors said they could not confirm nor deny whether they were reviewing the case.

Dominguez, 55, could not be located for comment.

The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, said the diocese is unaware of any criminal investigation of Dominguez, who spent more than a decade in the diocese.

"Mr. Dominguez is a defrocked priest," Lincoln said. "We fully support and will assist law enforcement's investigation of Mr. Dominguez."

Herrera said detectives spoke to Dominguez by phone during their investigation but have been unable to locate him.

Known as Father Jesse when he was a priest, Dominguez is accused in lawsuits of molesting three altar boys at Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church in Coachella in the mid-1980s.

One of Dominguez's accuser's, a 32-year-old man, claims the former priest also molested him in Perris, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court earlier this month.

He is also accused of molesting three boys at a Los Angeles County Catholic school during the 1970s, according to the lawsuits. The litigation accuses the San Bernardino Diocese and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles of negligence.

Herrera could not say whether the accusations investigated by Perris detectives involved any of the alleged victims who are now suing.

According to the Megan's Law database, Dominguez is a registered sex offender. He pleaded no contest in October 1993 to a misdemeanor child-molestation charge in Downey, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Dominguez came to the San Bernardino Diocese, which comprises Riverside and San Bernardino counties, in 1978 when former Bishop Phillip F. Straling appointed him as his personal assistant. Diocesan records show that Dominguez belonged to the Brothers of Charity, a religious order that no longer exists, before beginning his studies for the priesthood.

Straling, now bishop of Reno, Nev., said this week that he was unaware of any past allegations against Dominguez.

Lincoln has said Dominguez's personnel file does not contain any past complaints of sexual abuse nor any correspondence from the three Inland accusers who are now suing.

Diocesan records show Dominguez was ordained in late 1983 and was assigned to St. Edward Catholic Church in Corona.

The next year, Dominguez was the subject of a stigmata investigation after blood reportedly appeared on his hands and consecrated bread during a Mass at the church. A diocesan commission deemed the incident to be "psycho-physiological," and not miraculous nor supernatural.

Dominguez later worked at Our Lady of Soledad in Coachella, St. James Catholic Church in Perris and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Chino, Lincoln said.

By mutual agreement, Straling placed Dominguez on a leave of absence in July 1993 so that Dominguez could care for relatives, Lincoln said. Dominguez was later voluntarily removed from the priesthood, Lincoln said.

 
 

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