Former Priest Charged in Sexual Assault of Teen

United Press International [Anderson, Texas]
November 6, 1990

A former Catholic priest who testified in a civil trial that he had a sexual relationship with a teenager was jailed Tuesday on charges he sexually assaulted the 14-year-old parishioner.

Fernando Noe Guzman pleaded innocent Monday to charges in a four-count indictment accusing him of sexual assault of a child. He was jailed in lieu of $50,000 bond.

If convicted, Guzman faces up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count.

Guzman was the focus of a civil lawsuit filed against the Roman Catholic Church by a former Houston-area church secretary. Debbie McCorvey claimed church officials were aware of Guzman's previous sexual misconduct when it transferred him from Navasota to a church in Galena Park, where she became involved in a two-year sexual relationship with Guzman that resulted in the birth of a child.

A Houston jury last week rejected McCorvey's claims she was forced into the relationship, denying her $7 million she had sought from the church.

Guzman testified during the trial of McCorvey's suit that he had a sexual relationship with the 14-year-old girl while serving at the Navasota church.

Testimony from others revealed church officials once caught Guzman in a compromising position with the girl.

The alleged assaults were not reported to police at the time and the church handled the matter internally.

Guzman's testimony prompted Grimes County prosecutors to investigate the claims. The victim, now 21, told officials Guzman assaulted her on four different occasions.

"I think she submitted to the authority of a priest," said District Attorney David Barron.

Barron said he would seek maximum penalties against Guzman if he is convicted.

"With the admissions he's (Guzman) made on the stand, I cna't see him contesting the guilt or innocence," he said. "I think it will boil down to what punishment he'll receive. But it's my feeling that it's a serious crime and he deserves some prison time."

Testimony in the trial of McCorvey's suit also disclosed Guzman has fathered two children in Mexico.


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