Accused Priest Still in Hospital
Lawsuit: The Rev. Peter Covas Spent 21 Years at St. Catherine's in Riverside

By Michael Fisher
Press Enterprise [Riverside]
January 16, 2004

A longtime Inland priest accused in a recent lawsuit of sexually abusing a minor nearly 30 years ago remained Thursday in an Upland hospital, where he has spent nearly three weeks due to a lung disorder, diocesan officials said.

The Rev. Peter Covas, 73, was listed in fair condition Thursday in the critical care unit at San Antonio Community Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Kathy Perkins said by phone. His condition has remained unchanged since his admission, she said.
Covas, who has suffered pulmonary problems since he was a child in Pittsburgh, was hospitalized Dec. 27, said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the million-member San Bernardino Diocese.

Covas was placed on a ventilator when he was taken to the hospital. He was later weaned off the life-supporting machine, but was forced to rely on the ventilator again to assist his breathing, Lincoln said by telephone.

Doctors have since performed a tracheotomy, allowing Covas to breath on his own, Lincoln said.

"We have a group of parishioners who are very concerned and praying for him, as are we," Lincoln said.

He last served for 12 years as pastor at St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Rancho Cucamonga, but resigned last year amid allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct with minors.

Covas was the subject of a yearlong investigation after two men accused him of sexually abusing them as boys three decades ago.

One of the men later recanted and San Bernardino County prosecutors announced last year that they would not file charges against the longtime Inland priest.

One of Covas' accusers sued the diocese last month, accusing the priest of molesting him between 1975 and 1980 at churches in San Bernardino, Beaumont and Riverside.

At St. Peter and St. Paul Church, workers said Thursday their former pastor had been added to the prayer list since his hospitalization.

"It's very hard for the people who have known him for many years," Margaret Coffman, a pastoral assistant, said by telephone. "The community here is certainly praying for him."

Covas spent 21 years at St. Catherine's in Riverside and served seven years as principal at Notre Dame High School in Riverside.


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