|Archdiocese Helped Priest Flee, Suit Says
The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis Denies Allegation That It Enabled an Ecuadoran Priest to Leave after He Allegedly Molested a 4-Year-Old Girl
By Heron Marquez Estrada
September 10, 2008
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Wednesday was accused of helping an Ecuadoran priest flee the United States last year after he allegedly molested a 4-year-old girl in Minneapolis.
The allegation is contained in a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court against the archdiocese and the Rev. Francisco (Fredy) Montero, who left for Ecuador in July 2007 while under investigation for criminal sexual conduct involving the girl.
The archdiocese denied the allegations in the lawsuit.
"Archdiocesan officials had absolutely no role in the priest's departure to his home country," said church spokesman Dennis McGrath in a prepared statement. "We had no way to hold him here."
McGrath said when the girl's mother called church officials about the allegations, the archdiocese called police to investigate.
The girl is the daughter of a parishioner with whom Montero, 41, was living and having an affair while serving as a priest at the Church of the Incarnation in Minneapolis.
"That was how he gained access to her," Jeff Anderson, the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the 4-year-old, said at a news conference Wednesday. "He used that position to ... molest her."
The suit does not seek specific monetary damages, but does say it will be asking for more than $50,000.
While Montero was living with the woman, he was supposed to be residing with the archdiocese's vicar general, Kevin McDonough, in St. Paul.
Anderson said during the news conference that McDonough and the archdiocese should have known that Montero, 41, wasn't living in the church rectory and should have been more vigilant in keeping track of his activities.
More importantly, Anderson said, the archdiocese could have ordered him to stay in the Twin Cities long enough for the police investigation to end.
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