For immediate release: October 23, 2023
Fr. Armand Garcia pleaded guilty to corruption of a minor and unlawful contact with a minor stemming from the assault on this now-25-year-old woman. The priest was initially charged with rape, but agreed to a plea bargain taking that charge off of the table. The victim was an altar server at the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in the Andorra neighborhood at the time of the crime. The survivor had known the clergyman since she was 13 and he was a friend of her father’s. She reported the assault in 2017, when Fr. Garcia was transferred to St. Martin of Tours in Summerdale while she was away at college.
Again, we cannot praise this young woman enough for stepping forward at such an young age, despite the grievous harm she suffered as a result of her rape. Clergy sex abuse results in life-long injuries. As this victim testified, the assault caused her deep and permanent harm, hampering her ability to trust friends, family, and potential romantic partners, as well as interfering with her ability to pursue a nursing career. We can only hope that her persistence in pursuing criminal charges will be rewarded with the maximum sentence for this dangerous priest. Children are always safest when perpetrators are incarcerated.
We also note that Fr. Garcia was only ordained in 2005, and the rape occurred in 2014. This puts the lie to the Church's constant refrain that abuse is now a thing of the past. According to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the cleric had also passed a background check and attended child protection training programs. However, as this case illustrates, parents still need to be aware of what the signs of sexual abuse are, and be vigilant in delving into changes in behavior that can indicate that their child may have suffered an assault. Believing survivors and getting them immediate help are the best things parents can do to mitigate the damage of clergy sexual abuse.
We want everyone who was abused in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia or elsewhere to know that they do not need to suffer alone and in silence. They should not be afraid to stand up and tell their truth. There are people who will believe them and support them.
CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Interim Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board of Directors President ([email protected], 814- 341-8386)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)