Former Priest Gets Five Years in Prison

The Associated Press, carried in New Mexican
September 29, 2006

Albuquerque — A former Raton priest accused of sexual misconduct with a minor has been sentenced to five years in prison and five years of supervised probation.

George Silva, 74, was sentenced Thursday morning by U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera, who ordered Silva to surrender to U.S. Marshals by Monday morning. He was being held at a halfway house.

Silva reached an agreement with prosecutors in June in which he pleaded guilty to one count of transporting a 14-yearold boy from New Mexico to France and Portugal for illicit sexual activity last year. Silva avoided a trial and a possible sentence of up to 30 years.

"We are pleased with the effort that federal law enforcement applied to this matter," said the boy's attorney, Jeffrey Trespel. "We think the plea bargain provided a just sentence."

Celine Radigan, a spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, said the archdiocese cooperated with investigators in Silva's case and has a zero-tolerance policy on issues related to sexual misconduct.

Trespel filed a civil lawsuit this year in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque against Silva, the archdiocese and Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan.

The lawsuit contends the boy could not escape Silva's "predatory sexual behavior" because Silva had control of the boy's passport, airline tickets and money during the trips.

The lawsuit also alleges the archdiocese and Sheehan conspired to keep Silva's sexual behavior and other misconduct from the plaintiff's mother, parishioners and the public.

"This is a horrible thing to happen to a kid," Trespel said.

The allegations were first reported to the Santa Fe archdiocese in June 2005.

Radigan said the archdiocese immediately informed law enforcement, and Sheehan informed parishioners of St. Patrick and St. Joseph parishes in Raton during the celebration of Mass last October. The archdiocese also published information regarding Silva's behavior in its monthly newspaper, she said.

The archdiocese placed Silva on restricted status after an internal investigation found "credible evidence" to support the allegations.

Silva underwent treatment at a church-sponsored facility in Ohio. When he returned in November, he told the archdiocese he had decided to leave the priesthood.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.