Second Priest Removed from Duties in Salinas Sex Abuse Case

By Sunita Vijayan
The Californian
February 18, 2011|head

Spokesman of the diocese Tom Riordan holds up a copy of the "Diocese of Monterey's Policy Against Sexual Misconduct" during a press conference about the civil child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit that accuses their long-time Monterey priest Fr. Edward Fitz-Henry of child sex crimes Wednesday in Monterey. / Conner Jay

The Diocese of Monterey revealed today that a second priest has been stripped of religious duties in relation to the case involving a former Salinas clergyman accused of sexually molesting a teenager.

Diocese spokesman Tom Riordan said it was revealed by their investigator Thursday that the priest, whose identity wasn’t disclosed, failed to notify the proper authorities after he was approached in November or December by the alleged victim who told him about being sexually molested by the Rev. Edward Fitz-Henry.

“The priest didn’t report it to anyone,” said Riordan, adding that their policies are clear in that these types of allegations must be reported to appropriate authorities immediately.

He said Bishop Richard Garcia has removed the priest’s capacities to perform duties including mass in the four counties, including Monterey, under the Diocese of Monterey. Riordan said the priest has been performing duties in the four counties for the past two years and is from another diocese.

“He can’t function as a priest [within the Diocese of Monterey],” he said.

Diocese officials initially learned of the allegations Jan. 7 and within an hour of receiving a letter from the alleged victim and his lawyer, approached Salinas police. That same day, church officials suspended Fitz-Henry with pay from his duties at the San Juan Bautista Mission — standard procedure when such allegations arise.

Salinas police said this week that it has opened an investigation against Fitz-Henry on Feb. 1 after the alleged victim and his lawyer made a report. No arrest has been made in the case.

Fitz-Henry, now in his 50s and born in Ireland, has served the diocese for 25 years between Madonna del Sasso and the San Juan Bautista Mission.

On Tuesday, the priest's accuser, now 21, filed suit in Monterey County Superior Court, seeking damages and alleging he suffered sexual abuse when he was 14 at Madonna Del Sasso in late 2005 and early 2006.


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