Los Angeles Times
After he left Los Angeles, Father John Salazar-Jimenez became a trusted figure in a small Texas parish. But no one there knew his history.
By Ashley Powers
Reporting from Tulia, Texas
December 30, 2013
He was given a second chance here, in the High Plains of Texas, where a patchwork of cotton and wheat fields unfurls beneath a giant blue sky.
He was no longer Father John Salazar, a name typed across yellowed newspapers and courthouse microfilm more than a thousand miles away in Los Angeles. He was Father John Salazar-Jimenez, the face of Catholicism in this town of emptied grain elevators and darkened shop windows.
Yolanda Villegas adored Father John. A pillar of the Church of the Holy Spirit, she knew nothing of his past. Few parishioners did. Nearly every Sunday for a decade, she arrived for the Spanish-language Mass, knelt in the same pew and wondered how he’d inspire her that week.
“When he lifted the chalice and lifted the host, it almost felt like Jesus was doing it,” Villegas said.
They grew close as Villegas grieved for her daughter who had been killed in a car accident not long before the priest’s arrival in 1991. He later helped her teenage grandson Beau practice Spanish.
One day, in the spring of 2002, he asked Villegas to gather her family. He had something to confess.
Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.