Former SC visiting priest pleads guilty to child sex abuse charge in federal court

WCIV-TV, ABC-4 [Charleston SC]

August 10, 2023

By Ian Kayanja

A former visiting priest with the Catholic church who had ties to the Columbia area has pleaded guilty to a child sex abuse charge in federal court.

Jaime Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, 68, known as “Father Gonzalez,” pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Columbia to one count of Transportation of a Minor With Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity. Gonzalez-Farias was accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old while serving as a priest at a Columbia church in November 2020. Gonzalez-Farias is also a former visiting priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston.

In May 2020, Gonzalez-Farias met the victim and his family through his service as a priest, according to evidence presented in court.

He then began giving gifts and increasing amounts of attention to the victim, according to evidence in court.

In November 2020, the victim’s family reported to Catholic authorities their concern that the priest’s relationship with the victim was inappropriate. Church authorities then suspended Gonzalez-Farias and made a report to the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

The FBI conducted an interview in which the victim disclosed that in November 2020, when the victim was 11 years old, the priest took him to Florida under the pretense of a beach vacation, according to officials.

During that trip, Gonzales-Farias masturbated in front of the victim, attempted to sexually assault the victim, and showed the victim pornography, according to officials.

The FBI corroborated the victim’s disclosures by recovering text messages and WhatsApp messages sent by the priest to the minor, which were consistent with the victim’s story, according to officials.

Read more: Former SC visiting priest charged with sexual abuse of 11-year-old.

Gonzalez-Farias was arrested in Miami, Florida. And in January, he was denied bond.

Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison, plus fines and restitution, according to officials.

The statute also requires the defendant to register as a sex offender.

Gonzalez-Farias served as a Catholic priest in Newberry and Laurens Counties.