DA Drops Case against Priest on Indecency

By Jennifer Shubinski
El Paso Times
October 2, 2001

The district attorney's office dismissed indecency with a child charges against a Catholic priest who had been charged with fondling a 13-year-old boy at a pool party more than three years ago.

The case against Jose Alfredo Olivas, 46, was dismissed Friday "in light of the impact on the victim" if the case went to trial and because the boy asked that the case not be pursued, according to court records. Olivas' trial was scheduled to begin today.

Jose Olivas said he is grateful that the district attorney dismissed the charges and that his family stood by him.

"I harbor no ill will toward ... those involved in the fabrication of this falsehood," Olivas said. "However, I am as well resolute in seeking whatever remedies are possible in our judicial systems."

Olivas was accused of touching the genitals of the 13-year-old Aug. 31, 1998, while at a pool party. The incident was not reported to police until May 1999, according to police reports.

El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said his office did not pursue the case because of the alleged victim's "strong request not to continue."

Esparza said that when victims ask the District Attorney's Office not to pursue a case, the office often proceeds with a case, but in this case decided to follow the teen-ager's wishes.

"It is fair to say the victim truly did not want to proceed to trial, and it was my opinion that proceeding to trial would hurt the victim or traumatize the victim in a serious way," Esparza said.

Jose Olivas' attorney, Jaime Olivas, said he felt his client was the subject of a witch hunt. Jaime Olivas is not related to Jose Olivas.

"The District Attorney's Office is protecting themselves from malicious prosecution," Jaime Olivas said. "They interviewed 57 separate kids, former altar boys and never found anything."

Jose Olivas was the chief priest at Santo Ni?o de Atocha Church for seven years until he was put on administrative leave by the Diocese of El Paso in 1999 after the diocese was told about the accusations.

Bishop Armando X. Ochoa said Jose Olivas continues to be on paid administrative leave. "Now that the criminal action has run its course, we will continue with our investigation," he said.

Jaime Olivas said his client expects to go back to work soon.


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