St. Anthony priest accused of sexual misconduct

By Jon Earnest
Reedley Exponent
June 19, 2019

Msgr. John Esquivel

A woman has accused Monsignor John Esquivel of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Reedley of sexual misconduct; claiming she was sexually abused when Esquivel was serving as priest at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bakersfield in the 1980s.

In a June 17 news conference in Bakersfield, 52-year-old Sylvia Gomez Ray said she was sexually abused by Esquivel in the four months she worked as a secretary at the church in the mid 1980s. Gomez Ray said she was 17 or 18 at the time when the incidents occurred, and her attorney said they recently filed allegations on her behalf with the state Attorney General’s office as well as with police in Bakersfield and Reedley.

The Diocese of Fresno put out a June 17 news release saying that it planned to follow procedures and report to the Bakersfield Police Department. The diocese has a policy to report all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.

Esquivel did not comment on the allegations. He has served a dozen years leading St. Anthony’s, and was the first priest ordained by the Diocese of Fresno in 1968. He was honored April 27, 2018 during a Mass of Thanksgiving at the new St. Anthony Church on Frankwood Avenue.

Gomez Ray was joined at the news conference in front of the Bakersfield church by her lawyer, Joseph George, along with Joey Piscitelli, Northern California leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

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