Two San Antonio-area priests accused of sexual abuse of minors are stripped of their duties

San Antonio Express-News [San Antonio TX]

August 14, 2023

By Julie Silva

Two San Antonio-area priests have been stripped of their duties after they were accused of sexually abusing minors, and the allegations against them have been reported to law enforcement, the Archdiocese of San Antonio said.

The congregations at both churches were notified Sunday via letters from Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller that were read aloud.

Father Jesus Eduardo Martinez-Soliz of St. Joseph Church-Honey Creek in Spring Branch is accused of sexual misconduct and grooming a minor, García-Siller said. Grooming refers to the process by which sexual predators build a relationship of trust with children in order to exploit them.

The allegation was reported to a misconduct hotline on July 25, and the archdiocese notified the Comal County Sheriff’s Office.

At St. Monica Catholic Church in Converse, a teenager said that Father Alejandro Ortega had touched them inappropriately, the archbishop said. The minor reported the incident at a Catholic youth retreat held with another parish on June 24.

That parish notified the teen’s parents and the archdiocese, which informed the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office on June 29, García-Siller said.

Ortega and Martinez-Soliz were asked “to refrain from all ministry” during preliminary investigations conducted by the archdiocese with the assistance of an independent private investigator, García-Siller said.

“Our investigation showed that Father Ortega had on many occasions engaged in sexually inappropriate and unwanted physical touch, usually with adult women,” the letter said. “This was the first allegation that Father Ortega had intentionally engaged in inappropriate physical touch with a minor.”

The Archdiocesan Review Board found “sufficient evidence of inappropriate contact with a minor” in Ortega’s case and “evidence of sexual misconduct with a minor” in Martinez-Soliz’s case. The archbishop said the board’s findings required him to refer the two cases to the Vatican for judgment.

The board also found that Ortega and Martinez “pose a continuing risk to minors,” that they should not return to ministry and that the affected communities should be notified. 

García-Siller wrote that both men had been prohibited from engaging in ministry or using clerical clothes and titles. 

He thanked the survivors for coming forward and expressed hope that their example would inspire others to report sexual abuse. 

“The archdiocese takes seriously any allegation of sexual misconduct with children,” García-Siller wrote. “The safety and wellbeing of all people are very important, and the church’s safe environment policies seek to protect all of God’s children.”

Anyone who has experienced sexual abuse is encouraged to call the police. Reports can be made to the Office of Victim Assistance at 210-734-7786 or an outside service called Archdiocesan Misconduct Hotline at 844-709-1169.