Ex-salinas Priest Sentenced for Sex Abuse

May 4, 2011

A Salinas priest was sentenced to one year in jail, Wednesday, for sexually molesting a 16-year-old parishioner in his church.

The Rev. Antonio Cortes, 43, was a priest at St. Mary of the Nativity Catholic Church when he gave alcohol to the boy and then sexually abused him.

The victim, now 18, spoke in court before a judge read Cortes’ sentence. The victim said after he was sexually molested by Cortes, he tried to commit suicide multiple times, spent time in three mental hospitals and has nightmares.

"He's still in my head, everywhere I go I see him and hear him," the victim said. "This has been really difficult for me and it's something I don't wish on no one."

In March, Cortes pleaded no contest to 14 charges against him, including child molestation, possession of child pornography, and performing an immoral act before a child.

Cortes was emotionless when Judge Terrance Duncan read his sentence. Corrections officers handcuffed and escorted him to Monterey County Jail. Duncan recommended that Cortes be deported to Mexico after he served his sentence.

A group of supporters for the former priest left the courthouse in tears and refused to talk to reporters.

Cortes was first accused and arrested in April 2009. The Monterey Diocese suspended Cortes and revoked his permission to be a priest.

Cortes was ordained at the Monterey Diocese in 1996 and became a priest at St. Mary of the Nativity Catholic Church in 2007.

Monterey Diocese Bishop Richard J. Garcia said that he was deeply saddened by Cortes' crime. "The Diocese of Monterey recognizes that sexual abuse constitutes one of the most serious breaches of trust in human relationships," Garcia said.

"My heart goes out to the young man and his family," Garcia said. I'm sorry to hear of all that he has suffered these last two years. This is a sad day for all involved."

Investigators said no other victims were found.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.