Priest Accused of Abuse Plunges from Church Balcony

Chicago Breaking News
January 7, 2010

A Shorewood Catholic priest who parishioners described as a "very holy man" apparently tried to kill himself by jumping from the balcony of a shuttered downtown Joliet church Wednesday as Kane county investigators began looking into allegations he molested a 13-year-old boy, authorities said.

Alejandro Flores, 37, parochial vicar of Holy Family Parish in Shorewood, was found unconscious between the pews of St. Mary's Carmelite Church, 113 N. Ottawa, Wednesday afternoon, said Joliet police deputy chief Mike Trafton.

Police went to the boarded-up church after receiving a missing persons report from the Joliet archdiocese around noon Wednesday. Officials from the Diocese of Joliet told police that Flores, who was ordained in June, had keys and spent time in the church.

Flores was reportedly in critical but stable condition Thursday.

In a statement, Bishop J. Peter Sartain said he placed Flores on administrative Monday after learning from another priest that the family of a 13-year-old boy had alleged Flores sexually abused him.

Kane County is investigating the allegations, police and the Kane county state's attorney's office said. There are no prior abuse allegations against Flores, Sartain said.

Flores was placed in a "monitored living situation" after the accusations were made, but on Wednesday morning he "left...on foot unnoticed and soon thereafter attempted suicide," Sartain said in the statement.

"Since Monday I have been deeply grieved for the young boy whose family reported the abuse and for the entire family, and my prayers for them have not ceased," he said. "This added tragedy compounds what was already a great sorrow, and I ask you to join me in fervent prayer for the boy and his family as well as Fr. Flores."

Parishioners at Holy Family Parish in Shorewood were stunned by the news. "We're very devastated," said one, who asked not to be named. "He's just a great guy, a very holy man."

Flores was quoted in an archdiocese magazine last year saying he was inspired to become a priest while living in a Bolivian orphanage after his mother died.


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