Fugitive Priest Now Faces Charges in Maricopa County

By Kirsten Joyce
Azfamily [Arizona]
June 13, 2007

A Roman Catholic priest who fled the country after being indicted on sexual abuse charges out of Yuma is now looking at charges out of Maricopa County.

Just this week a Maricopa County grand jury indicted Father Jorge Washington Cordova on two counts of sexual abuse.The alleged incidents occurred 15 years ago when he was assigned to the Charismatic Renewal Ministry in Phoenix.

"Criminal fugitives who flee Maricopa County are learning that the arm of the law is longer than they thought," County Attorney Andrew Thomas said.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas responded today to the sexual abuse charges, shown in the indictment against Father Jorge Washington Cordova, 51.

"The incidents of abuse allegedly occurred between 1992 and 1993 while Cordova, a Roman Catholic Priest, was assigned to a ministry here in Phoenix," Thomas said.

The indictment said he fondled a 13-year-old girl's breast while he was assigned to the Charismatic Renewal Ministry.

In the early 1990's Cordova also served in the Valley when he was a resident of "Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish" in Glendale and Saint Augustine Parish in Phoenix.

But Cordova fled Arizona after he was indicted on ten counts in Yuma County, charges which stemmed from alleged abuse against children while he was serving the St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma in the late 1980's.

So, will Yuma or Maricopa County try him first?

"Yuma have more charges, 10, and we have two, but we fully intend to prosecute him here in Maricopa County when it's our turn," Thomas said.

The County Attorney also spoke about the status on other cases regarding priests from the Valley.

"We've had a number of accused pedophile priests on the lamb," he said. "We've had to track them down. We were able to get one from Mexico and we prosecuted him successfully last year."

Jorge Washington has spent part of the past year in Ecuador and was arrested last week while attending a seminar in a small town near Madrid, Spain.

He has turned over his passport and authorities in Spain will be holding him, until the extradition process is complete, which could take a year.


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