Bishops in DC, VA & MD must act re admitted predator
For immediate release: Monday, Aug. 24
We doubt Fr. Espinoza was ever on the Arlington bishop's payroll. But we know seven things.
First, he admitted raping a teenager.
Second, he was around kids in the DC area (including in the Arlington diocese).
Third, Catholic officials recruited, educated, ordained, trained, and hired him.
Fourth, one year ago, every US bishop was told that Fr. Espinoza’s archbishop suspected he was in Maryland, but apparently no church official warned police, prosecutors, parents or the public.
Fifth, he says two Catholic officials told him to flee overseas.
Sixth, so Catholic officials helped conceal his crimes.
Seventh, if more victims, witnesses and whistleblowers speak up, the chances of prosecuting him and protecting kids increases.
So we believe that Catholic officials – in DC, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Ecuador - have a moral and a civic duty to aggressively reach out to anyone who
In 2003, Fr. Espinoza fled the country after a 15 year old boy reported that this priest had raped him. According to Fr, Espinoza two Newark area Catholic officials urged him to go back to Ecuador before he got in trouble. The police were unable to question him and the case became cold.
In 2005, Fr. Espinoza returned to the US and taught at Beville Middle School in Woodbridge, VA for three years. From 2008 until Feb of 2014, he taught Spanish at Parkdale High School in Maryland.
(The former is in the Arlington diocese. The latter is in the Washington DC archdiocese.)
According to an internal church memo just obtained by SNAP, a year ago, Catholic officials suspected that Fr. Espinoza was in Maryland. They alerted virtually every US bishop about Fr. Espinoza. But despite repeated pledges to be “open and transparent” about abuse, apparently no church staff alerted a single other person about the allegations against Fr. Espinoza or his presence in the DC area.
So today we want to talk about what Catholic officials can do in light of this tragedy. Four different bishops are involved: Newark’s Archbishop John Myers, Maryland’s Archbishop William Lori, Arlington’s Bishop Paul Loverde, DC’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the bishop from Ecuador.
It is inexcusable that two Catholic officials apparently told a suspected child molesting cleric to run from the law and that none of several hundred US bishops helped warn police, prosecutors, parents, and the public about him. It is horrifying to think this priest has been around children here and in Ecuador since fleeing in 2003. And sadly this happened just one year after the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children was created.
We suspect that while in northern Virginia, Fr. Espinoza may have attended mass, volunteered at parishes, and been around innocent children. We want Bishop Loverde and his colleagues to aggressively urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Espinoza to contact law enforcement.
For the safety of parishioners, we also want all US bishops involved (in DC, VA, MD and NJ) to write their colleagues in Ecuador begging them to keep Fr. Espinoza away from kids and out of parishes.
We also want to urge school officials in both VA and MD to reach to any possible victims of Fr. Espinoza.
Fr. Espinoza admitted in writing that he sexually abused the 15 year old boy but instead of showing remorse, he blamed the victim, saying the boy had evil thoughts, that he is just after money, that he didn’t force him to do anything he didn’t want to do. The priest further excused his behavior by saying he was drunk and that it was just one mistake. Fr. Espinoza talks about his suffering, not the suffering his victim.
We urge anyone who may have been victimized by Fr Espinoza to go to secular authorities and seek support from organizations like, SNAP. Please know you are not alone.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. 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)