Where's 'Father Manuel'? Police hunting fugitive priest, teacher accused of raping N.J. teen

By Mark Mueller | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com  on July 30, 2015 at 7:15 AM, updated July 30, 2015 at 9:26 AM

Twelve years ago, amid allegations he raped a 15-year-old boy in the rectory of a Plainfield church, the Rev. Manuel Gallo Espinoza vanished.

The Archdiocese of Newark, where Gallo Espinoza had served as a visiting priest, said he apparently fled to his native Ecuador after church officials informed him of the claim and suspended him from ministry.

Authorities never interviewed him. Within months, the investigation went dark.

Now, with...

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  • Barbara and Howard Blaine / Rubin
    commented 2015-08-26 12:20:52 -0500
    In response to the comment posted below by Manuel Gallo Espinoza: In the interest of free speech SNAP will not delete the comment left by Father Manuel Gallo Espinoza. However, we will redact certain statements that disclose private information Father Manuel learned in confidence about his victim, a fifteen year old minor.

    SNAP will not allow the SNAP website to be used to cause further harm to a victim by allowing private information about him to be public on our website.

    This type of victim blaming, so prevalent (and often so subtle) in main stream media and communication platforms, is one of the most common tactics used by perpetrators to silence their victims. The suggestion that the lasting impression on a fifteen year old boy raped by a priest would be financial is hateful and misguided. Child victims of sexual assault experience a myriad of social and emotional problems that no amount of money could correct or compensate.

    The first significant question is, why hasn’t Father Manuel revealed his address and turned himself over to police?

    The second question is, why haven’t church officials taken proactive steps to assist in the prosecution of Father Manuel Gallo Espinoza?

    Note to Father Manuel Gallo Espinoza: Your apology, interlaced with pleas for sympathy for your health and personal finances, is noted, but you are not forgiven. You cannot be forgiven until you make amends. If you are truly sorry you would take responsibility for your actions and turn yourself over to police and face the consequences of your behavior. You would reveal your address. You would also stop blaming the victim for your bad behavior.

    Barbara Blaine
    SNAP President
  • Manuel
    commented 2015-08-21 23:22:09 -0500
    Hello dear fellows.

    I have read all these commentaries and it is a shame that after being killed once I am being killed again.

    Max is not telling the true story he is looking for money. I didn’t do anything he didn’t want. He walked by himself to do what he wanted.

    He at that time when he showed up to our church was not even catholic, his mother was protestant and he used to appear in different places where I used to work trying to reach me. I didn’t pay attention at the beginning because I am accustomed to meet with different people, but he had something evil in his mind. He approached me many times.

    I do not consider myself as a pedophile person, I made a mistake once and that’s was all. Being sincere with myself I decided to quit priesthood by myself and start from zero and I did so.

    The two guys in charge of the charismatic youth group suggested to come back to my country and I did so. Since that moment because of that mistake I decided not hurt anybody else and I began teaching. Since then I haven’t had any situation related to this matter.

    Honesty I started from zero, I am a poor teacher that I earn $520 every month just to live and I have been doing my best for students in my country.

    I had the opportunity to have a teacher exchange experience and I did so. You can investigate in Virginia and Maryland; I was very successful with students and authorities getting respect and consideration.

    I came back to my country because my visa was coming to an end on February 28th 2014 and I presented my resignation on February 21st 2014 and I flew back to my country on February 26th 2014 to follow immigration rules. I couldn’t continue working because Prince George’s County stopped sponsoring teachers. All my papers were legal. I followed all the rules. After being in my country for one year and five months a friend of mine let me know about this incident.

    Everybody needs an opportunity to change for better and I learned my lesson, but I think the sign of dollars is roaming Max’s head that after approximately 12 years he is starting with this story again.

    To the best of my knowledge I didn’t change him the way he is, [Sentence was redacted, as explained in comment from SNAP President Barbara Blaine.]

    My big mistake was that I was drunk because I got homesick, depression, alone, but these are not excuses; these are circumstances that I couldn’t handle. This was my first time travelling overseas to a different country. A country that I love from the bottom of my heart because I learned the language and its culture; but, this situation killed me once and suffered the consequences; as you can see in the photo of my visa very sick and old with colitis after a year of suffering, going to the bathroom after each meal because my vowels couldn’t stand food in them.

    Now, Max is killing many people again including myself: friends, relatives and general society. The explanation that I find to begin again with this incident after many years is “EASY MONEY.” One thing that I am conscious is he was at that time a teenager, and it is a big mistake for me. But I didn’t force him to do anything he didn’t want. He was older enough to walk away, but I think that I was attracted to him, that is the only explanation that I can think right now.

    He didn’t want to present charges at that time, that’s why he didn’t do anything. We were going to go to a special program suggested by the two youth charismatic leaders to overcome this situation, but it was not possible because he was going to talk to a Nun about it. He asked me if it were convenient to go I replied do what his conscience says. He went talk to the Nun and she said he has to report this to clerical authorities because I will continue doing so.

    My hell began and the rest was previously explained, I am just clarifying this incident for the responsibility that as a person I have with the U.S.A. society, my friends and my relatives.

    God bless you all and He is the witness that all explained here is the truth. I would like to have the opportunity to talk to Max to say that I am very very sorry for the past incident, that I have learned my lesson, that nowadays I am a citizen that is doing what is right and I have demonstrated that in my last 9 years in the U.S.A. teaching at Elementary School, Middle School and High School levels following the rules of the United States of America that I love as my second county.

    I am very sorry again, and I want you to avoid to get sick roaming in your minds with ideas that can hurt more people.


    Mr. Gallo.
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