Priest Removed in Sexual Abuse Case

February 19, 2011

There's a treatment facility in New Mexico which helps people recover from addictions, but it's not just any rehab clinic. It's one Central Coast News learned is designed for priests.

Father Edward Fitz-Henry, now accused of sexual abuse, spent time there back in 1992. Right now he's on administrative leave from his work at San Juan Bautista Mission while facing allegations about abusing a now 21-year old man back in 2005.

Since breaking this story we've learned more about Father Fitz-Henry and how the Church handles these types of situations.

Central Coast News asked the Diocese of Monterey how much it knows about Servants of the Paraclete and if Father Fitz-Henry was sent there for treatment almost 20 years ago.

Thomas Riordan with the Diocese of Monterey said he's "Not familiar with what they do and what happens there."

Riordan said that in an institution as big as the Catholic Church there are programs for everything. Central Coast News asked if it included one for sexually abusive priests and he said "yes." But when we asked about it, he asked us to turn the camera off.

At that point Mr. Riordan said he'd find the information and would give us a call. He did and we confirmed Father Fitz-Henry attended Servants of the Paraclete in 1991 for an incident that happened while Father Fitz-Henry was serving at the Carmel Mission.

Riordan said that the incident was termed a non-sexual boundary issue, meaning the Priest did not have actual sexual contact.

We don't know how long Farther Fitz-Henry was at Servants of the Paraclete but we do know that his next assignment was in San Luis Obispo. In 1994, he moved to San Juan Bautista Mission.

Riordan also said Servants of the Paraclete is no longer operating. We called there and someone answered the phone. They told us to leave a message for the Priest who headed the facility and he'd call us back.

Central Coast News learned that Fr. Fitz-Henry's alleged victim actually reported the incident back in November or December to a Priest who was working with the Monterey Diocese while here taking care of his family.

According to Riordan, that Priest did not report the allegations. When the Monterey Diocese learned about what happened it removed him from service and contacted the Bishop of the Diocese he belonged to. The Diocese told us that Priest has been removed from service.

Submitted by Lucero Benitez, Central Coast News


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