New Allegation of a Cover-Up by the Catholic Diocese of Yakima

April 10, 2008

[with video]

Yakima, WA - A national organization makes another allegation of a cover up by the Catholic Diocese of Yakima.

This comes eight days after the bishop admitted to knowingly hiring an ex-seminarian under investigation for viewing child porn online.

According to court documents, Father Joaquin Estrada was convicted of attempted sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl five years ago.

He was later deported back to Mexico.

That abuse happened within the Baker Diocese in Boardman, Oregon at 'Our Lady of Guadalupe" Catholic Church.

But leaders with the 'Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests' say it was less than a year after Estrada left the Yakima Diocese, where he worked at "St. Peter Claver" in Wapato and "Holy Family Redeemer" in Yakima, and Bishop Carlos Sevilla should have made the conviction public to make sure there were no victims in this area, and because US Bishops pledged to be open with child sex crimes the year before.

The 'Survivor's Network' once again asked the bishop to impose a punishment on himself; saying he should skip the papel visit to the US and do penance.

Bishop Sevilla did not want to comment on this latest incident, but church officials say he will not do that.

He rejected the network's demand for a self-imposed month-long suspension last week for hiring Juan Gonzalez, the ex-seminarian, who is in jail, charged with viewing child porn online.

While the bishop was unavailable, a diocese spokesperson tried to explain why they did not go public with Estrada's conviction.

"You know we always ask around and make sure the people who associated with him (Estrada) had no complaints, but there was no official investigation at the time," says Father Monsignor John Ecker of St. Paul's Cathedral.

When asked why there was no public investigation, Ecker replied, "We could've done it better."

Robert Fontana of 'Voice of the Faithful' says he learned about Estrada through a diocese employee in Yakima last year and he sent in the court records to 'Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.'

"My concern is to expose the abuse because if anybody was abused here we want them to come forward," says Fontana, "My second concern is the cover-up."

KNDO Local News put in calls to media outlets in the Tri-Cities and Eastern Oregon and those that got back to us said they could not find this story in their archives.

Fontana says he called the Baker Diocese about the Estrada conviction and asked why it was not made public. He says a spokesperson on the phone told him it's not "our job to do the media's job for them."


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