Sacramento Bishop Reveals Misconduct Claims against 14 Priests

Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 6, 2002

Fourteen Sacramento Diocese priests have been accused of sexual misconduct with children over the last 30 years, Sacramento Bishop William K. Weigand has revealed.

Of the 14 accused priests, three remain active in the diocese "because the allegations were not sustainable," Weigand said. Two of the accused priests are dead, two are retired and seven have left the priesthood or the diocese, he said.

Weigand named two of the men: former priests Javier Garcia and Jorge Moreno, who fled to Mexico in 1995 while facing criminal allegations they molested an altar boy during the 1970s.

Weigand apologized to the victims, as well as to other clergy and Catholic parishioners, adding that he is "angered and heartsick by the irresponsible conduct of a few, which casts a pall of suspicion over the majority."

The diocese extends north from Sacramento to the Oregon border and includes about 500,000 members tended by 160 active priests.

Victims' advocate Donald I. Hoard, who has been tracking the national church's response to the unfolding sexual abuse scandal, applauded Weigand's decision but said he should release names.

On Friday, Weigand also removed three Catholic priests from their ministries, but said that was not related to sexual misconduct. He said he removed the three priests Friday because "their pattern of behavior has raised doubts in my mind as to their suitability for ministry."

Weigand also announced new security measures.

Prospective priests will undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks, and police will be notified of allegations involving a minor.

The diocese will no longer require victims to remain silent as a condition of financial settlements, Weigand said. If insurers require the settlement amount be secret, the settlement agreement itself will be public.

"Being open will help us to tackle problems sooner and take action faster," Weigand said.

Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.