US Attorney's Office - District of South Carolina
February 9, 2024
By US Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina
Jaime Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, a/k/a “Father Gonzalez,” 69, a former Catholic priest, of Laurens, was sentenced to more than 21 years in federal prison following a conviction for transportation of a minor with intent to engage in illegal sexual acts.
Father Gonzalez-Farias served as a Catholic priest since at least 1990, including in South Carolina from 2015 until his suspension by the Catholic authorities in late 2020. He most recently served at parishes in Newberry and Laurens Counties. He also served in parishes in Florida and New Jersey.
In early 2020, Gonzalez-Farias met the minor victim, an 11-year-old boy, and his family through his position as a priest. Gonzalez-Farias began giving high levels of attention to the child, including giving gifts such as a cellphone that he used to communicate with the victim. In November 2020, the child’s family reported to Catholic authorities their concern that the priest’s relationship with the child was inappropriate. Church authorities suspended Gonzalez-Farias and made a report to the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and FBI Columbia Field Office.
Investigators learned that in November 2020 the priest took the minor victim to Florida alone under the pretense of a beach vacation, and during that trip, Gonzales-Farias masturbated in front of the victim, attempted to sexually assault him, and showed the minor victim pornography. Investigators uncovered numerous text messages and WhatsApp messages sent by the priest to the minor, that included affectionate names for the child and messages that were inappropriate, crossed appropriate boundaries, and were consistent with the minor victim’s disclosure of abuse.
After his arrest by FBI agents on Nov. 28, 2022, at the Miami International Airport, Gonzalez-Farias admitted that he touched the minor victim’s genitals in Florida and that he showed the victim pornography and showered with the victim in South Carolina. FBI searched the contents of Gonzales-Farias’s devices, and the contents of those devices showed a continued interest in minors. Gonzalez-Farias pleaded guilty in August 2023.
United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Gonzalez-Farias to 262 months imprisonment, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. Gonzalez-Farias will also have to register as a sex offender as a result of his conviction, and he was ordered to pay restitution to the victim for losses incurred as a result of his conduct.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was investigated by the FBI Columbia Field Office and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliott B. Daniels and E. Elizabeth Major are prosecuting the case.