Menlo Park Priest on Leave after Incident with Boy

June 1, 2011

[with video]

MENLO PARK, Calif. -- The community at a popular Catholic church in Menlo Park was stunned Wednesday night after learning their pastor has been placed on leave following an alleged incident involving a 17-year-old boy.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco said the pastor at St. Raymond's Catholic Church -- Father William Meyers -- has been removed from his post because of the incident.

San Francisco's Bishop William Justice himself came to talk to the parish about what happened Wednesday night during an emotionally charged meeting.

The Archdiocese said it just learned last Thursday that Father William had followed a 17-year-old boy -- who is a member of the church -- into the dressing room of a department store on April 19th.

The boy's father called police, but authorities determined no criminal activity had taken place.

"The young man said he was never touched," explained Bishop Justice. "Nothing happened."

The archdiocese said priests are not allowed to be with a child alone. Over the last 11 years, there have been no charges or allegations against Father William.

He became the pastor of St. Raymond's last year. The bishop said the priest admitted to them he had a sexual addiction. The archdiocese said it has also learned that when Father William was ordained in Stockton he had undergone therapy.

"The therapy was because he was struggling with sexual identity," said Bishop Justice.

Parishoners KTVU talked to at the Wednesday night meeting were upset.

"The due diligence was nothing what it should have been," said congregation member Fred Tiso. "You have little kids here. You got kindergarten through 8th grade. You can't have someone who's struggling with sexual identity. What's that mean?"

Parishoner Margerita Mendez took a more forgiving stance.

"I'm really sorry for what happened," said Mendez. "I feel really sad, but I hope God helps him. I don't hate him. He was our pastor. This is my church."

The archdiocese has appointed an independent review panel to investigate Father William. The bishop himself will be celebrating mass here until a replacement priest is named.


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