Catholic priest who formerly served in Charleston indicted on federal sex abuse charges

The Post and Courier [Charleston SC]

January 8, 2023

By Jocelyn Grzeszczak

Federal prosecutors charged a Catholic priest who served for several years in the Charleston Diocese with sexually abusing an 11-year-old child.

Jaime Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, 68, was arrested Nov. 28, 2022, in Florida, court records show. The Chilean national had worked in South Carolina as a visiting priest of the Diocese of San Bernardo, Chile, between 2015 and 2020, according to church records.

Prosecutors charged him in an October 2022 indictment with three counts of sexual crimes: coercion or enticement of a minor; transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and aggravated sexual abuse of children.

Prosecutors allege his crimes began in fall 2020, when Gonzalez-Farias persuaded the 11-year-old to engage in sexual activity with him, according to the recently unsealed indictment.

The defendant traveled with the child from South Carolina to another state, where Gonzalez-Farias is accused of “intentional touching, not through the clothing, of (the victim’s) genitalia,” the indictment states.

Gonzalez-Farias “had access” to the 11-year-old via his duties as a Catholic priest, according to the indictment.

Gonzalez-Farias was ordained in 1990 and has held numerous positions in the church including pastor, parochial vicar, administrator, chaplain and priest, the indictment states. 

Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston received a clear background check on Gonzalez-Farias in 2015 when the man moved to South Carolina, the diocese said in a statement. He worked in several parishes and ministries until late 2020.

That December, Diocesan officials had learned of a sexual misconduct allegation involving Gonzalez-Farias and a minor, according to the statement. By that time, the priest had left the U.S. and returned to Chile.

The diocese notified his parishioners in January 2021 and retired Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone determined there was reason to believe the allegation.

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Department initially investigated Gonzalez-Farias but the matter was ultimately referred to federal authorities, according to the statement.

The diocese did not disclose where he served in South Carolina. 

July 2020 report shows Guglielmone gave the priest several new assignments, including administrator of Holy Spirit Mission in Laurens and St. Boniface Mission in Joanna, as well as chaplain to Presbyterian College in Clinton.

Gonzalez-Farias was included in August 2021 on the Charleston Diocese’s list of visiting priests with a “credible allegation” of child sexual misconduct. 

Gonzalez-Farias was remanded to South Carolina after his initial appearance in a Florida courthouse. His arraignment at the U.S. District Courthouse in Columbia is scheduled for Jan. 9. 

If convicted of all charges, Gonzalez-Farias faces a minimum of 30 years in federal prison along with associated fines. Elliott B. Daniels will prosecute the case. Current court records don’t yet list a defense attorney for Gonzalez-Farias.

Call Jocelyn Grzeszczak at 843-323-9175. Follow her on Twitter at @jocgrz.

Jocelyn Grzeszczak

Jocelyn Grzeszczak covers crime and public safety in the Charleston area. She previously wrote breaking news and features for Newsweek and The News-Press.