Police: Woodburn Priest Chased Boy down Street after Abuse

By Maxine Bernstein
The Oregonian
August 14, 2012

St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn, where the Rev. Angel Armando Perez is the parish priest.

The Rev. Angel Armando Perez at Saint Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn.

James Curths, 35, said the boy looked "like someone running from a ghost."

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It was close to midnight Sunday when Woodburn resident James Curths saw the 12-year-old boy running down the street toward him. Curths said the child, panting and out of breath, begged for help, telling him a man was chasing him.

Moments later, a man rounded the corner wearing only underwear. He stood a short distance away, trying to wave the boy over as Curths and his sister-in-law prepared to drive the boy to relatives.

"He was staring at us," said Heather Rodriguez, 28, Curths' sister-in-law, who was also outside. "Then he stood there with his hands on his hips like, 'You're really not going to give him to me?'"

Rodriguez and Curths, 35, told the man they were calling the police. Only then, they said, did the man jog away.

The man who chased after the boy that night, Woodburn police say, was the Rev. Angel Armando Perez, the parish priest at St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn. Early Monday, the boy gave police a detailed account of the alleged sex abuse he said occurred at Perez's home, leading to Perez's arrest later Monday.

Court records released Tuesday detail the alleged abuse and the pastor's actions after the incident.

"Father Angel touched me"

Perez was arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court on Tuesday, appearing via video from Marion County Jail, wearing a black V-neck top with his hands secured in front of his waist. He faced allegations of first-degree sexual abuse, abuse of a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

The Salem boy told authorities that Perez had asked his parents a few days earlier if he could take him on a trip to the mountains. He and his family attended a community church event Sunday night, and the 12-year-old went with Perez that night to the pastor's house, a grayish-green home less than 200 paces from the church's front door.

The boy told police Perez gave him a beer and they watched a movie. The boy told investigators that an air mattress was set up on the living room floor for him to sleep on. He said he fell asleep on the mattress, the affidavit said.

Later, the boy said, he was "woken up by a couple of flashes."

He said that when he opened his eyes, he saw Perez next to the air mattress, with one hand on the boy's genitals and one hand holding a cellphone. The boy discovered his underwear and shorts lowered to his knees, while Perez was dressed in underwear and a T-shirt, the boy told police.

The boy said he went to pack up his things when Perez went upstairs. "Father Angel called to him saying, 'Come back to bed,'" the police affidavit says.

Instead, the boy said goodbye and ran off.

Curths, who was hosting a barbecue when the boy showed up outside his house, said he looked distraught. "He just seemed really terrified, and he was almost in tears," Curths said.

When the pastor caught up to the boy outside Curths' house, wearing what Curths and his sister-in-law said looked like a burgundy Speedo swimsuit, the boy hid behind Curths.

"He was scared to death," Curths said. "It was like someone running from a ghost."

Curths said the boy told him that the man had "touched his privates."

Curths drove the boy to his sister's house, where the boy told his sister what had happened, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, the boy told her, "Father Angel touched me in my privates."

He was shaking and appeared scared, the sister told authorities. The boy's sister alerted her mother, and his father drove to pick up the boy.

"I made a mistake"

Meanwhile, according to the affidavit, Perez had driven to the boy's home in Salem to talk to the boy's mother and brother about 2 a.m. Monday.

Perez had a strong odor of alcohol and appeared intoxicated, the brother of the alleged victim told police.

The brother told police that Perez's first statement was, "I am very sorry; I made a mistake."

Perez continued to ask forgiveness, and added, "I didn't mean to hurt" the child, the boy's brother told police.

"I am just one who serves in the church, and I have sinned; don't stop believing in the church," Perez reportedly told the victim's brother, according to the affidavit.

Perez also offered to let the boy's mother and brother check his phone, saying, "You won't find anything," the affidavit said. The relatives asked Perez to leave the house.

"This is the last time you will see me," Perez said before leaving, the brother told police.

On Monday, Woodburn detectives interviewed Perez at the Woodburn Police Department.

Perez told them he drank too much at the community event. He said he and the boy were given a ride back to his Woodburn home. There, Perez said, he drank another beer, and they watched a movie, the affidavit said.

He told police "at some point he blacked out and doesn't remember what happened," the affidavit said.

Perez told Woodburn Detective Sgt. Nick Wilson that he remembered going upstairs and brushing his teeth, and when he came downstairs, he recalled a look of "disappointment and anger" on the boy's face, the affidavit said.

Perez, the affidavit said, admitted he drove intoxicated to the boy's home to apologize and find out what happened. He said he dropped to his knees and begged for forgiveness.


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