UT--Convicted perp priest later worked in Utah
For immediate release: Monday, April 25, 2016
Just a couple of years ago, a California priest who pled guilty to “sexual battery” against and “unlawful sexual touching” of a teenager was quietly sent to work in Utah, Catholic officials now admit. Worse, he’s just been put in charge of three Oklahoma churches apparently with no warning to parishioners.
We call on Utah Catholic officials to explain their recklessness and secrecy and aggressively seek out anyone he may have hurt in the state.
In 2012, Fr. Jose Alexis Davila was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to stay away from a 19-year-old he victimized in the San Diego Diocese. Catholic officials there were harshly criticized for putting him back in a parish after he admitted his guilt.
Later that year, Fr. Alexis Davila was gone.
But late last month, Coakley said he was putting Fr. Alexis Davila at three Oklahoma parishes. Since December 2015, Fr. Alexis Davila has apparently worked at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Lawton, OK.
And over the weekend, one of Coakley’s public relations staffers disclosed that before being sent to Oklahoma, Fr. Davila worked in Utah.
Quietly moving a convicted criminal cleric to another diocese, as then-San Diego Bishop Robert Brom did, is inexcusably irresponsible.
Quietly letting a convicted criminal cleric work in your diocese – as then-Utah Bishop John Wester did and current Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley is doing, is also inexcusably irresponsible.
These are stunningly irresponsible and hurtful decisions by men who know and have repeatedly promised better.
We call on Utah’s current Catholic hierarchy - especially the current head of the diocese, Monsignor Colin F. Bircumshaw (801.328.8641 x 304, [email protected]) – to disclose exactly where in the diocese Fr. Davila worked and discipline anyone who played any role in letting him be around vulnerable parishioners.
We call on Msgr. Burcumshaw and his colleagues and current San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy to aggressively seek out anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered Fr. Davila’s crimes and beg them to call police. They should use parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements to seek out others who may have information or suspicions about Fr. Alexis Davila and who may be able to put him behind bars so teenagers can be safer.
We also call on all of these Catholic officials to insist that Fr. Alexis Davila be put him in a remote, secure, independent and professionally run treatment center for sex offenders.
We realize that Bishop McElroy wasn’t overseeing the San Diego diocese when Fr. Alexis Davila committed his offenses. We realize that Monsignor Bircumshaw wasn’t overseeing the Utah diocese when Fr. Alexis Davila was sent there.
But both men have a moral and civic duty to see if there are others in their flock who are still suffering from the cleric’s crimes.
They will probably say that Fr. Alexis Davila officially belongs to some other diocese now. That’s a cop-out. San Diego and Utah Catholic officials can’t wash their hands of criminal clergy just by quietly sending them down the road.
Archbishop Coakley should immediately reverse himself and ban this priest from his archdiocese. He should go to all four of these parishes, explain his recklessness, and beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered sex crimes or misdeeds by Fr. Alexis Davila to call police.
And Coakley should be disciplined and denounced by Catholic officials in Rome and on the church’s abuse panel (the National Review Board). Three prelates in particular should take action: Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley (the pope’s top advisor on abuse), Louisville Kentucky Archbishop Joseph Kurtz (head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) and Juneau Alaska Bishop Edward Burns (head of the USCCB’s abuse committee).
Our hearts ache for every person who was hurt by Fr. Alexis Davila and for every parishioner – in Utah, California and Oklahoma – who feels betrayed by the irresponsible actions by their church officials.
No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(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)