Rev. John Jairo Velez, s.m.

Summary of Case: A native of Bogota, Colombia and Marist order priest, Velez admitted in 1991 to sexually abusing an altar boy in the Salinas, CA diocese. The Salinas diocese had allowed Velez to work in its parishes after Velez left the El Paso diocese in 1990 "under a cloud" of suspicion. Velez was escorted out of the U.S. and delivered to his order in Mexico City. He is thought to be continuing to serve as a priest in Colombia. The Monterey diocese settled with the former altar boy in 2009.

Ordained: 1988


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State/Country Position Notes
1988 1989        


El Paso bishop was Raymundo Joseph Pena (1980-1994)

1990 La Purisiman El Paso TX   Velez is indexed in the 1990 Directory only. He left this parish due to "unspecified misconduct".


Monterey bishop wa Thaddeus Anthony Shubsda (1982-1991), followed by Sylvester Donovan Ryan (1992-2006)

1991 St. Mary of the Nativity


Velez was accused in a 2003 lawsuit of having sexually abused an altar boy at St. Mary of the Nativity.


CA In residence. Bishop Shubsda arranged for Velez to live at St. Mary's and work at Christ the King in Salinas. After he died in April 1991, second-in-command in the diocese, Msgr. Fatooh, persuaded the Immigration and Naturalization Service to allow Velez to transfer to Monterey. Fatooh was accused in 2003 of having molested a child in 1973, when he was a Marianist Brother.
1990 1991 Sacred Heart Salinas CA    
1990 1991 Christ the King/Cristo Rey



CA visiting priest/associate pastor

This was a mission of Sacred Heart.

According to Monterey Church officials, Velez was sent to Mexico in 1991 after accusation of child sexual abuse surfaced. The plaintiff in the 2003 lawsuit was the source of the 1991 accusation.

The same boy was said to have been suffering ongoing sexual abuse by another priest, Rev. Juan Guillen. It was Guillen who reported Velez' abuse of the boy to authorities. Velez was sent to St. Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista where he tried to commit suicide. Guillen took over as associate pastor in Velez' absence. Velez was hospitalized, after which he was escorted to Mexico City and turned over to his order. Guillen was later convicted in Arizona of sex crimes against children.

1991 2011     Mexico

Diocesan officials admitted in 2009 they did nothing upon learning in 1991 of the boy's abuse. Per court documents, diocesan attorney Albert Ham and St. Mary of the Nativity pastor, Fr. Gregory Sandman, told the boy's parents that the abuse was "not a big deal", and that it "happens to a lot of kids."

The diocese settled with the former altar boy for $1.2 million in May 2009. As part of the settlement, the diocese agreed to formally apologize to the man and his family, and to release church documents pertaining to the abuse.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1990)

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Man Sues Dioceses over Alleged Abuse in Salinas, Arizona, By Alex Friedrich, , Monterey Herald [Arizona] , Downloaded June 06, 2003
Diocese Discusses Abuse Cases, By Dan Laidman, Monterey County Herald, January 28, 2004
Bishop Ryan's February Pastoral Letter, By Bishop of Monterey, February 4, 2004
L.A.Times database, April 20, 2006
A Peek at the Bishop's Past, By Gustavo Arellano, Orange County Weekly, December 7, 2007
Civil Suit Charts History of Church Abuse in County, By Virginia Hennessey, Monterey Herald, May 17, 2009
Diocese Accused of Mishandling Sex Abuse Case, KSBW, May 26, 2009
Monterey Diocese Settles Abuse Case for $1.2 Million, By Virginia Hennessey, Monterey Herald, May 30, 2009
Diocese of Monterey Agrees to Pay $1.2 Million to Former Altar Boy in Molestation Case, By Sunita Vijayan, Salinas Californian
May 29, 2009
Sex Case Involving Former Yuma Priest Settled, Yuma Sun, June 1, 2009
2nd Diocese Adds $1.2M to Settlement for Molesting, By Stephanie Innes,Arizona Daily Star, June 3, 2009
Path to Abuse: Monterey Diocese Turned Blind Eye to Priests' Victims, By Virginia Hennessey, Monterey Herald, July 19, 2009
Victim Believed in Priests Who Hurt Him, By Virginia Hennessey, Monterey Herald, July 19, 2009

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Velez' career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Sept. 14, 2011