Priest with Tucson Ties Indicted Again

By A.J. Flick
Tucson Citizen
May 24, 2007

A onetime Tucson priest who was indicted last year on charges of molesting two boys in the 1980s has been indicted on similar charges involving another boy.

The Rev. Gary Edward Underwood, 53, who is a military priest in Bossier City, La., was indicted by a Pima County grand jury April 24 on one count each of molestation of a child and sexual conduct with a minor under 15, allegedly occurring between Aug. 1, 1985, and Jan. 31, 1986.

In November, Underwood was indicted by a grand jury on one count of molestation of a child and two counts of sexual conduct with a minor under 15, from March 21, 1983, through March 21, 1984, and six counts of molestation of a child and one count of sexual conduct with a minor under 15 from Oct. 8, 1983, through Oct. 8, 1984. The Tucson Citizen is not naming the boys because they are alleged victims. The ages of the boys from the November and April indictments were not available.

Underwood, who posted bond in the earlier cases, pleaded not guilty to all charges and remains free on bond, court records show.

The Archdiocese of the Military USA has placed Underwood on leave pending the outcome of the cases.

Underwood's attorney, Dan Cooper, has told the Citizen that Underwood is innocent and ready to fight the charges at trial.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson is not paying for Underwood's defense and won't act on any of his allegations until the cases are settled, the diocese told the Citizen last year.

Underwood, who was ordained in 1980, served at St. Odilia Catholic Church, 7570 N. Paseo Del Norte, in the diocese here from March 1983 through September 1987, the diocese said.

In 1987, Underwood volunteered to join the military chaplaincy, the diocese said.

Four years ago, a priest in a little-known order devoted to the Virgin Mary who was assigned to St. Odilia's was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison for molesting a 13-year-old South Tucson boy in 1982.

Thomas Patrick Purcell, 66, was convicted of three counts of sexual conduct with a minor under 15 and one count of attempted sexual contact with a minor.

In 2004, the Tucson diocese announced that all priests who had been involved in sexual misconduct here had been identified.

Purcell was among 26 priests against whom there were "credible" claims involving 96 alleged molestation victims.

Underwood had no previous allegations against him before last year, according to the diocese.

The diocese here filed for bankruptcy in 2004 after lawsuits were filed over the sexual misconduct allegations.

In 2005, the diocese agreed to pay $22.3 million to more than 50 victims of sexual abuse by priests.


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