The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, May 1, 2009
Clergy sex abuse victims blast Archdiocese
Catholic officials kept priest's arrest secret for months
Accused predator was nabbed as he tried to flee the US
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is harshly criticizing New York Catholic officials for keeping silent for months about criminal sexual misconduct charges against a priest who tried to flee the US.
On Wednesday, Westchester County prosecutors announced that Fr. Richard Ordonez faces charges that he tried to sexually assault a woman he was counseling in 2004 at St. Vito's Parish in Mamaroneck. On December 8, Ordonez was arrested at Kennedy International Airport while he was trying to return to Ecuador.
"Once again, sexual misconduct allegations against a New York priest are kept quiet by the church hierarchy," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, national president member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "Four months after he's arrested, we learn of the accused priest only because law enforcement caught him before he fled the US."
"This case shows that Catholic officials continue to be obsessed with keeping clergy sex crimes secret," she said.
In 2002, under intense pressure because of the church's clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis, America's bishops adopted a 'charter' that pledges 'openness and transparency' in cases of misconduct by predatory priests. SNAP says those pledges are rarely honored.
"Four months of secrecy gives a criminal a long time to intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, destroy evidence, and fabricate alibis," said David Clohessy, SNAP's national director. "By violating its promises of '’openness,’ the Archdiocese has hurt victims, Catholics, police and prosecutors, all of whom need and deserve to know when priests face criminal sex charges."
"We hope that anyone who saw, suspected or suffered misdeeds by this priest will come forward, get help, call police and protect others," he said.
(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 20 years and have more than 9,000 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 home)
NY DA says priest groped woman he was counseling
Associated Press - April 30, 2009 5:35 PM ET
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - A Catholic priest has been indicted on sex abuse charges in New York for allegedly groping a woman during marriage counseling.
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore says the Rev. Richard Ordonez, who was visiting from Ecuador, was counseling a woman in 2004 at St. Vito's Parish in Mamaroneck when he tried to assault her sexually.
The DA said Thursday that when the woman broke free, Ordonez grabbed her and forcibly groped her.
The woman did not report the incident until 2008. Ordonez was arrested Dec. 8 at Kennedy International Airport as he was about to board a plane to Ecuador.
Ordonez's lawyer, Mary Bejarano, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The New York Archdiocese has withdrawn Ordonez's working privileges.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Westchester priest indicted on sex abuse charges
WHITE PLAINS – A Mamaroneck priest has been indicted by a Westchester County grand jury for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman as he provided marriage counseling to her.
District Attorney Janet DiFiore Thursday said Richard Ordonez, 37, was charged with three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree and one count of attempted sexual abuse in the first degree, all felonies.
DiFiore said the charges stem from an alleged sexual assault of a parishioner in January 2004.
During what became their last session, Ordonez allegedly grabbed the victim and attempted to sexually assault her. She broke free momentarily and was again grabbed and forcibly groped by him. She was ultimately able to break away and flee from Ordonez’s office.
In September 2008 after a conversation with a friend, she contacted Mamaroneck Village Police and reported the assaults. At that time, Ordonez was out of the county. On December 6, police spoke with him about the assaults and told him they would question him further.
Two days later police arrested him at JFK Airport as he was about to board a plane with a one-way ticket to Ecuador.
If convicted, Ordonez faces up to seven years in state prison.
St. Vito Priest Again Charged With Sexual Abuse
Judy Silberstein, posted on May 1, 2009
A Mamaroneck Village priest arrested in December of 2008 was indicted on Thursday, April 30 and charged with three counts of sex abuse in the first degree and one count of attempted sex abuse in the first degree.
Father Richard Ordoñez, 37, a visiting priest with St. Vito’s Church in Mamaroneck is charged with sexual assault of a parishioner. The priest was from Ecuador and had been living in the rectory at 816 Underhill Road, which is where the assaults are alleged to have occurred. (See: Mamaroneck Priest Charged With Sexually Abusing A Woman)
The woman had gone to marriage counseling with Father Ordoñez in January, 2004.
According to a release from the Westchester District Attorney’s office, on January 23, Father Ordoñez grabbed the victim and attempted to sexually assault her. She broke free, but he again grabbed and forcibly groped her. Ultimately she broke away, fled and avoided further contact with the priest.
In September 2008, after a conversation with a friend, the woman reported the assaults to the Mamaroneck Village Police. At that point, Father Ordonez was out of the country, but when the victim learned he was returning, she went to the police.
On December 6, 2008, Mamaroneck Village police questioned Father Ordoñez, who was back serving as a priest and living in the rectory. Two days later, on December 8, police arrested the priest at JFK airport as he was about to board a plane with a one-way ticket to Ecuador.
He was later charged with one count of sexual abuse in the first degree.
Father Ordoñez spent a number of weeks in the Westchester County jail before he was able to raise the $50,000 bail set by Mamaroneck Village Judge Dan Gallagher.
It’s unclear why Father Ordoñez is being indicted again on charges similar to those from December. The Gazette received the release too late to ask follow-up questions.
Following the original arrest, the New York Archdiocese revoked the priest’s authority to serve in the parish.
A case manager with a Westchester social service agency told the Gazette in December that she knew of four other women referred for marriage counseling with the priest from 2003 to 2004 who later said they had been abused by the priest. One woman said he had forced her to have sex with him.
However, the case manager did not contact police. The current indictment involves only one woman, the original victim identified in December. It appears that no other victims have come forward.
Father Ordoñez’ arrest in December was a shock to the St. Vito community, particularly to the Hispanic parishioners who attended the services he conducted in Spanish.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests