Santa Rosa bishop says priest served on North Coast after 1987 molestation case in Texas

A Roman Catholic priest who served on the North Coast after he was accused of sexual misconduct in Texas has been added to the Santa Rosa Diocese’s list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse on the basis of the 32-year-old molestation case from San Antonio.

Jose Luis Contreras, believed to be 78, is not known to have acted improperly while posted in California, where he served between 1995 and 2000 before returning to Mexico, Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa said.

The Santa Rosa Diocese had no knowledge of the 1987 accusation against Contreras when he came to the region from Tepic, Mexico. He had left the United States for Mexico in the wake of the sex abuse allegation. After joining the Santa Rosa Diocese, Contreras served at Saint Elizabeth Seton in Philo, Mendocino County, Vasa said. He would later serve in Crescent City, as well.

Vasa said Contreras’ Santa Rosa files include no reference to his misconduct, but rather include several letters of praise, and that those other priests who remember him were shocked by the news.

“It comes actually as shock out of the blue,” Vasa said. “I don’t know any other way to express it.”

In keeping with the protocol used to assemble the list, Vasa added Contreras upon learning he had been named in the San Antonio Archdiocese’s Report on Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy.

The report was published Jan. 31, three weeks after Vasa released his own list of 39 credibly accused priests. Vasa was only recently informed the San Antonio list included someone who had served locally, he said.

“As I become aware of other dioceses that publish names, I have no hesitancy about updating our list, and I certainly want to keep it current as possible because that was my commitm...

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