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SNAP
Statement



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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

 

April 1, 2008

An employee of the Catholic Diocese of Yakima is facing extradition to Oregon on child pornography charges

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)

Sevilla knowingly hired an employee accused of child pornography, kept it secret, and never called police to follow through or check up. This is no "error" or "bad judgment" but a series of deliberate, deceitful and reckless moves that put Yakima kids at risk.

Sevilla deceived his flock and his employees by keeping these alleged felonies hidden.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 17 years and have more than 7,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact:
David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home)
Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747)
Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)

Contact: Rev. Robert M. Siler, Chief of Staff, Catholic Diocese of Yakima, 509-965-7117 (work), 509-494-2678 (cell) - rsiler@yakimadiocese.org

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DIOCESAN EMPLOYEE FACING OREGON CHARGES 

An employee of the Catholic Diocese of Yakima is facing extradition to Oregon on child pornography charges stemming from his time as a seminarian for the diocese five years ago. The Diocese has received no complaints about the employee, but Bishop Carlos Sevilla said that employing him could have put children or young people at risk.

"I have always been and continue to be deeply committed to keeping the church a safe place," Sevilla said.  "I should not have hired the employee, regret my serious failure in good judgment in doing so, and take full responsibility for my actions."

Juan José González Rios, 37, was arrested March 19 after a traffic stop in Tieton brought to the attention of Yakima authorities that he was wanted in Marion County, Ore. on four felony counts related to the viewing of child pornography. The episode allegedly occurred while he was a student at Mount Angel Seminary in Mount Angel, Ore.

González was dismissed from the seminary in February 2003 and returned to the diocese, while police in the city of Mount Angel, after being notified by the seminary, began an investigation.

Sevilla said that after discussing the allegation with González, he viewed it as an isolated episode of viewing child pornography.   González then was employed on a part-time basis at St. Peter Retreat Center in Cowiche.  That summer he became the full-time director.  Sevilla said he employed González there because the job involved administrative work and teaching religious education to adults, with no ministerial responsibilities with children or youth.  "It was a serious error in judgment on my part to employ Mr. González while he was under investigation," Sevilla said.

The pastors of the parish in Cowiche were not informed of the allegation, and it recently came to the diocese's attention that González has been providing some religious instruction to youth. An investigator unaffiliated with the diocese will be hired to find out whether or not there are any allegations of inappropriate conduct on his part.

The diocese's Lay Advisory Board, charged with advising the bishop about matters pertaining to the sexual abuse of minors, also was not informed.  The board was in the very initial phase of service to the bishop, and held its first meeting, about the time of González's hiring. "I certainly regret that I did not advise the board," Sevilla said.  The board will help oversee the investigation.

Seminary officials wrote to the diocese in May of 2003 that Mount Angel police were continuing their investigation.  According to the letter, González likely would be offered the opportunity to surrender quietly to police to face charges, once a forensic examination of his personal computer was complete.  The warrant for González's arrest was issued May 4, 2005, nearly two years later.  The bishop was not notified that he had been charged.  Nonetheless, "It was a serious mistake not to follow up to see if charges had been filed," Sevilla said.  "I take full responsibility for this."

González faces an extradition hearing April 22.  He is being held on $80,000 bail.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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