Priest Indicted on Indecency Charge

By Monica Merced
El Paso Times
September 8, 1999

An El Paso priest who has been with the El Paso Diocese for several years was indicted on a charge of indecency with a child by an El Paso grand jury Tuesday afternoon.

A court date has not been set for the Rev. Jose Alfredo Olivas, 44, who was chief priest at Santo Ni?o de Atocha in South-Central El Paso for the past seven years, the district attorney's spokeswoman said.

Neither Olivas nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

Arturo Gallardo, president of the men's club at Santo Ni?o de Atocha Church, said he has faith in Olivas.

"We still are going to back him up until he's proven guilty," Gallardo said.

Olivas was arrested June 4 on the charge, and then freed on a $30,000 bond, police reported.

According to the Rev. Richard Matty, chancellor of the Diocese of El Paso, Olivas was put on administrative leave in May after the diocese was approached about the alleged incident.

The grand jury had the case for five weeks before deciding to indict Olivas on one count of indecency with a child, according to the district attorney's spokeswoman.

If Olivas is convicted of the second-degree felony, he could face a prison sentence of two to 20 years, a fine up to $10,000, or both.

The alleged victim's uncle filed a complaint with the El Paso Police Department before the June arrest, stating that Olivas inappropriately touched his 13-year-old nephew, according to police reports.

The complaint alleges the incident happened at the uncle's pool party in the summer of 1998.

The uncle said he then confronted the priest and said Olivas denied the accusation.

The uncle then said he allowed the priest to take his nephew home.

"I couldn't give my nephew a ride home because I had to take care of my son. Father Olivas lived close to my nephew, and I trusted Father Olivas that he wouldn't try to do anything to my nephew," said the uncle in the sworn police statement.

The uncle said he was close friends with Olivas for several years.


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