Haverhill Priest Arrested on Child Rape Charges

By Denise Lavoie
Associated Press
January 15, 2002

Boston - A Haverhill priest has been arrested on child rape charges alleging that he assaulted a 15-year-old girl several times over a four-month period.

The Rev. Kelvin E. Iguabita, 33, was arrested late Monday on two counts of rape of a child and one count of assault with intent to rape.

He pleaded innocent Tuesday during his arraignment in Haverhill District Court. Judge Kevin Herlihy ordered him held on $15,000 cash bail.

Iguabita was assigned to All Saints Parish in Haverhill as parochial vicar when the alleged assaults took place in 2000, said police Sgt. John P. Arahovites Jr.

In court Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo said the alleged assaults occurred from August through December 2000.

Police would not say whether the alleged assaults took place on church property.

The Archdiocese of Boston issued a written statement Tuesday, saying it had recently learned of the allegations after being contacted by an adult working with the alleged victim.

The archdiocese said Iguabita took a leave of absence on July 18, 2001. It did not say why he had taken a leave. Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna M. Morrissey did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Iguabita's arrest comes as a defrocked priest, John J. Geoghan, goes on trial in Middlesex Superior Court this week on charges of molesting a 10-year-old boy in 1991. Geoghan, who was defrocked in 1998, also faces two additional criminal trials in Suffolk County and 84 civil lawsuits. More than 130 people have claimed he fondled or raped them during the three decades he served in Boston-area parishes.

Last week, in a remarkable turnaround following years of silence, Cardinal Bernard Law apologized to Geoghan's alleged victims and ordered clergy and volunteers to report allegations of abuse against minors. The Archdiocese of Boston will have "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse by priests, he said.

In its statement Tuesday, the archdiocese said a "mandated reporter" had contacted the archdiocese about the alleged Haverhill victim.

"In accordance with our sexual misconduct policy, Father Iguabita will not be given any assignment in the Archdiocese of Boston pending the outcome of the criminal charges and formal review and action under our policy," the archdiocese said.

Iguabita, a native of Columbia, was ordained in Boston in May 1999. He was assigned to All Saints Parish from June 1, 1999, to June 5, 2001. He gave a Gloucester address in court Tuesday.

He is due back in court Feb. 6 for a status conference.


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