Six new allegations against Diocesan priests found credible


September 29, 2021

By Rick Silva

Allegations against north state priests already on list, more expected to follow

SACRAMENTO — The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento said six new allegations of abuse involving five priests who served in the north state have been deemed credible.

The diocese said Tuesday that the new allegations had been uncovered by the independent compensation program.

“This independent program did what we prayed it would do,” Bishop Jaime Soto said in a press release. “First and foremost, it created a venue where victims of clergy abuse could come forward and seek justice and healing for the pain that was inflicted on them by men who betrayed their trust. Second, it provided information that we are using to ensure that our reckoning of the past is as thorough and transparent as it needs to be if we are to seek God’s mercy.”

The diocese also said that the announcement won’t be the last in new allegations being made as the information from the new program is investigated.

“In every instance where ICP filings contained even partial information regarding a claim of abuse, we have attempted to reach out to the victim or are in the process of doing so,” Soto said. “Our goal is to provide whatever help we can and to ensure that our parishes and communities know all that we do about the sins of the past.”

The six new allegations involving already-listed priests as uncovered by the ICP involve:

  • Gerardo Beltran Rico
  • William Feeser
  • Francisco Javier Garcia
  • William Hold
  • Uriel Ojeda

Gerardo Beltran Rico

Rico served in Orland in the 1980s and is one of three priests who are fugitives. He fled to Mexico in December 1991, after a report to police and issuance of an arrest warrant. He’s reportedly ignored multiple requests from the Bishop of Sacramento to return and face justice.

Pope Benedict XVI dismissed Rico as a priest in 2008.

He went to seminary at  Nuestra Senora de la Piedad Seminary, Mexico, and was ordained July 1982 as a priest of the Diocese of Sacramento and soon started at St. Dominic Parish in Orland where he served until 1988. He then moved to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento (1988-89), St. Joseph Parish in Sacramento (1989-91), and St. Anthony Parish in Winters in 1991.

When the diocese released the original list in 2019, there were 15 cases against Rico, starting in 1981 when he fled. All reportedly involved children under 14, nine of which were girls. Six of which were reported in 1991 or 92.

Since then, the diocese has added two more credible cases, One involving a boy under the age of 14 and a second, involving a boy under the age of 18. All 17 cases involve sexual touching and fondling, however, two of the accusations against Rico include allegations of rape by force of a female under the age of 14.

William Feeser

Feeser, who died in 2012, served in Red Bluff in 1999. He attended St. Charles Seminary in Pennsylvania and was ordained as a priest in the diocese in April 1977.

He served at Our Lady of Assumption in Carmichael (1977-1982), St. James in Davis (1982-88), St. Joseph, Sacramento (1988-1992, in residence)  St. Robert, Sacramento (1992-95, in residence) All Hallows, Sacramento (1995-96, in residence) Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sacramento (1996-97, in residence); Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sacramento (1997-99), Sacred Heart, Red Bluff and Mercy High School (1999) and St. Mary, Vacaville (1999-2001)

He also taught at Jesuit High School (1982-1995) and St. Francis High School (1995-97)

He also served as the chaplain at Sacramento Juvenile Hall from 1995-96, and at UC Davis Medical Center from 2001- 2008

According to the diocese the alleged abuse occurred between 1977 and 1987, and there were five allegations, two involving females under the age of 14, one involving a male under the age of 14, and two involving males under the age of 18.

Three of the five cases against Feeser were reported since the original list was released in 2019. All five cases involved sexual touching fondling, two involved sodomy.

He retired in July 2010, and in 2011, after the first report. He was stripped of his faculties.

Francisco Javier Garcia

Garcia served in Woodland, Williams and Colusa in the 1980s and ’90s and is one of the three who are fugitives and fled after a criminal warrant was issued for his arrest in 1995.

There are 25 cases pending against Garcia, the latest report coming last year.

In 1995, he was removed from the ministry, and Pope Benedict XVI dismissed him from the priesthood in October 2007

Garcia attended seminary in Mexico, was ordained in July 1970 by the diocese of Acapulco and was incardinated in the Sacramento diocese in 1989.

In 1978, he served at Our Lady Guadalupe, Sacramento, St. Joseph’s, Rio Vista, St. Theresa. Isleton, St. Anthony, Walnut Grove.

He served at St. Pius X Seminary, Galt (1978-1990), before he was recalled by his bishop in Mexico where he stayed from 1980 to 1985.

He returned to the United States in 1985 and served at Holy Rosary in Woodland (1985-1991) Out Lady of Lourdes in Colusa, and Sacred Heart in Williams (1991-95).

The alleged abuse by Garcia occurred between 1973 and 1995. All 25 cases against Garcia involve boys, with 22 of them under the age of 14.

The allegations range from sexual touching and fondling to sodomy.

William Hold

Hold, who died in 2012, served in Corning and Susanville in the 1980s and in Woodland in the late ’70s.  He had his faculties removed in 1998 after a report was received alleging abuse. He attended St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park and was ordained in the diocese in 1977.

He served at St. Philomene, Sacramento (1976-77), Holy Rosary, Woodland (1977-79). He was unassigned but living in Sacramento from 1979-81 before heading to  St. Patrick High School, Vallejo (1981-82).

In 1982, he was in Berkeley for studies, and in 1982-83 he was again unassigned but living in Sacramento,

He then served at the California Correctional Center, in Susanville (1985-87),  Immaculate Conception, Corning (1988-89),  St. Charles, Sacramento (1989-1992) St. John, Dunsmuir and St. Joseph, McCloud (1992-94) and St. Joseph, Yreka (1994-1998).

Hold was accused of three allegations of abuse that occurred between 1976 and 1979.

All three cases involved boys under the age of 14 with the latest report coming in 2020 which involves sexual touching and fondling.

Uriel Ojeda

Ojeda served in Woodland and Redding, but was sentenced to eight years in prison when he pleaded no contest to sexual molestation of a minor in 2013. Ojeda was released from prison in 2019 and was dismissed from the clerical state in March 2016. Ojeda attended the seminary at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon from 1998 to 2007.

In June 2007 he was ordained as a priest and spent 2007 to 2009 at Holy Rosary in Woodland before spending the next four years at Our Lady of Mercy in Redding.

When the original list was reported, he had one accusation of sexual touching and fondling of a female under the age of 18.

In 2020 another accusation of sexual touching and fondling of a female under 18 was reported.

New program

The diocese notes that new allegations come from the completed Independent Compensation Program, which ran from September 2019 to the summer of 2021.

According to the diocese, victims were allowed to seek compensation within a confidential process without having to go to court.

The independent program’s administrators reviewed each claim and made a determination regarding a settlement offer, according to the diocese.

The diocese encourages anyone who may be a victim of clergy sexual abuse, or who knows someone who may be, to report this to law enforcement, and to seek help for the pain it has caused. The Diocese’s Pastoral Care Coordinator may be reached through a toll-free number at 866-777-9133.