Priest Who Tried Suicide Charged with Sex Assault

Chicago Breaking News
January 20, 2010

A priest who authorities say hurled himself from a church balcony after he was accused of molesting a boy has been charged with seven felonies, including predatory criminal sexual assault, Kane County authorities said today.

Rev. Alejandro Flores, 37, was also charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of criminal sexual assault for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old boy at a West Chicago church where Flores was posted as a seminarian, according to the Kane County State's Attorney's office.

State's Atty. John Barsanti said Flores abused the St. Charles boy over a five-year period between Jan. 1, 2005 and Jan. 1, 2010.

Flores was released from the hospital today and was in the custody of Kane County authorities, according to the state's attorney's office. He was expected to be booked into the county jail this afternoon and to appear before a judge Thursday afternoon.

Flores was formally charged last Friday, though the charge remained sealed until he was well enough to be taken in custody. The Bolivian-born priest had been hospitalized after reportedly trying to kill himself by leaping from the balcony.

His bond was set at $1 million, Barsanti said. Flores must surrender his passport should he post bond.

On Jan. 6, two days after the Joliet diocese placed Flores on leave from a Shorewood church when the abuse allegations surfaced, Flores fell 20 feet to the floor at St. Mary's Carmelite Church in Joliet.

He was found unconscious, lying on the floor between a row of pews and taken to a hospital in critical condition. Both police and church officials characterized it as a suicide attempt.

Flores was ordained in June. The abuse allegations stemmed from Flores' time as a seminarian at St. Mary's Catholic Church in West Chicago, authorities said.

The church's pastor, the Rev. John Balluff, addressed the issue in the parish's weekly bulletin last Sunday, urging any parishioner with additional abuse allegations to immediately contact law enforcement.

"We will always be committed to doing everything possible to protect children, to help this child and his family and to help bring about healing for our families and the people of the diocese," Balluff wrote.

Balluff did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

At a news conference earlier this month, Joliet Bishop J. Peter Sartain publicly apologized to the alleged victim and his family. There were no previous abuse allegations against Flores, the bishop said.

The state's attorney's office also asked anyone with possible information to contact the Kane County Child Advocacy Center at (630) 208-5160.

Barsanti said his office became aware of the allegations against Flores through the West Chicago police, who had received information from the church. Under state law, clergy are mandated reporters, meaning they must forward any allegations of sexual abuse. From there, the police turned their investigation over to the Kane County Child Advocacy Center.

"The system worked pretty much like it should," Barsanti said.

Barsanti said investigators were planning to interview Flores on the same day he was injured. Since then, prosecutors have been in regular contact with the Joliet diocese.

"I can say the diocese was completely cooperative," he said.

Lt. Pat Gengler of the Kane County sheriff's department said Flores would, like all prisoners, receive a screening to decide whether he should be on suicide watch or released into the general jail population. An alleged recent suicide attempt will merit additional scrutiny, he added.

"When we know there's been something like this, then we'll pay special attention," Gengler said.


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