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Sexual Misconduct among Priests in the Philippines: Key Cases

This special report profiles a dozen key cases of priests in the Philippines accused of child sexual abuse. All are believed to be living in the Philippines as of January 2015. At least seven are still in active ministry, according to online church directories and news sources; the other five were in active ministry as of a few years ago, but their current status is unclear. None is known to have been laicized.

This report launches our Philippines research project – an effort to document comprehensively the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the world’s third largest Catholic country. We have identified and researched to date more than 70 priests, brothers, and bishops in the Philippines who have been accused of child sexual abuse and sexual misconduct with adults.

We present this page in the meantime because these cases raise
particularly urgent concerns about child safety (see also our letter).
They include:

  • Rev. Apolinario “Jing” Mejorada, O.S.A., an active parish priest in Laguna province who admitted to sexually assaulting boys in Cebu City in the late 1990s.
  • Rev. Joseph Skelton, Jr., still in active ministry with young people in the Philippines, although the bishop of Tagbilaran and the Philippine bishops' conference were made aware that Skelton had been convicted of sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old boy in the Detroit MI archdiocese in 1988.
  • Rev. Raul Cabonce, who was quickly transferred to his bishop’s residence in 2011 after a 17-year-old girl filed rape charges against him.
  • Rev. Manuel Perez “Benilda” Maramba, O.S.B., currently listed as a faculty member of San Beda College and performer with the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music, both in Manila. He is named by at least three victims from his former assignments in Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S.

These cases are important too because they reveal an enduring resistance by Filipino bishops to punishing and exposing offending priests. This attitude is evident even in Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the popular Manila archbishop considered a possible successor to Pope Francis. In a 2012 interview with journalist John Allen, he said that zero tolerance was a subject of debate in the Philippines: "We’ve had cases in the past ... in which some priests who had offended were given a second chance and turned out to be very good priests." And in a little-noticed 2012 video interview with UCANews, he observed of the Asian church's response to clergy sexual misconduct, “I think for us ... exposing persons, both victims and abusers, to the public, either through media or legal action, that adds to the pain.”

Civil action by victims, investigations of the church by prosecutors, and governmental inquiries – factors that have forced bishops and religious superiors in other countries to adopt more effective child protection measures – have occurred little or not at all in the Philippines. Even its criminal justice system seems skewed against victims: our research so far has found no convictions of clerics for child sexual abuse. In July 2002, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines addressed clergy sexual abuse for the first time, issuing an apology. The group's president, Cotabato archbishop Orlando Quevado, estimated that in the 20 years previous, 200 of 7,000 priests nationwide may have committed sexual abuse or sexual misconduct. But church officials since then have released virtually no information – no documents and no names – of specific offenders. [For more on the lack of accountability of Filipino bishops, see our letter to Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Ph.D., Filipino member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.]

In 2003, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) published "Pastoral Guidelines on Sexual Abuses and Misconduct by the Clergy," a protocol far more lenient toward accused priests than the Charter and Norms adopted the previous year by the U.S. Church. The bishops stated flatly that they would not report priests to civil authorities, since the bishop-priest relationship is "analogous to that between father and son" (par. 36.G). They also stipulated that in many cases, confidentiality oaths are required (par. 36.A). If a priest is falsely accused, the bishop will issue a written defense and may bring the accuser to court (par. 39); there is no similar provision for restoring the reputations of maligned victims.

The Guidelines hedge about removing priests even in cases where sexual abuse has been verified: "the bishop or superior will limit the ministry of the individual or even prohibit it, if warranted.” (par. 37.C)

The Guidelines focus at length on the situation of priests who father children – "priest-fathers." The first time a priest fathers a child, his ministry "must be saved" if it can be "established with moral certainty that the generation of a child was the result of an isolated fault" (par. 43.B). If a priest fathers a second child, he will be dismissed from ministry (par. 43.B.7).

In February 2012, Cardinal Tagle said that new guidelines were being finalized for presentation to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As of January 2015, this updated protocol had not been published. According to a 2013 book by Philippines journalist Aries Rufo, Altar of Secrets: Sex, Politics, and Money in the Philippine Catholic Church, the Vatican has rejected the new draft because it still contains the provision allowing priests to father one child in ministry – what is scathingly called the "one child quota system" by Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, a public critic of his colleagues' response to clergy sexual misconduct.

In the meantime the 2003 Guidelines are still available on a related site but are no longer directly accessible on the CBCP website. We have cached the 2003 Guidelines for safekeeping.


KEY CASES OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE BY PRIESTS IN THE PHILIPPINES


PRIESTS NOW IN THE PHILIPPINES ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES

Rev. Rubin V. Abaya
| Rev. Hermy Dave O. Ceniza | Rev. Arwyn N. Diesta | Msgr. Cristobal Garcia | Rev. Manuel Perez "Benildo" Maramba OSB | Rev. Joseph Skelton, Jr.


PRIESTS NOW IN THE PHILIPPINES ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING CHILDREN IN THE PHILIPPINES

Rev. Raul
Cabonce | Rev. Agustin B. Cuenca OFM | Rev. Benedicto Ejares | Rev. Orestes M. Huerta | Rev. Gabriel Madangeng, Jr. | Rev. Apolinario Mejorada OSA

Name Summary Status/Whereabouts Sources

Rev. Ruben V. Abaya

• Newark NJ archdiocese, US

• Metuchen NJ diocese, US

• Trenton NJ diocese, US

• Los Angeles CA archdiocese, USA  [granted faculties for 11 days in April 1980, during which he allegedly assaulted teenage girl]

• Possibly Laoag diocese, Philippines

Filipino priest who worked in the US from 1977 to 1982. Accused in 1984 lawsuit with six other priests of sexual abuse of girl 1980-1982 in the Los Angeles CA archdiocese. In 1991, Santiago Tamayo, the priest who first raped the girl, held a news conference to apologize to the victim for his own crimes and for involving the other priests in her abuse.

**

All seven priests cited in this landmark case were from the Philippines and at least six were assigned to US dioceses in the early 1980s. Santiago Tamayo, the priest who initiated the abuse, first raped the girl in 1978, when she was 16 and aspiring to become a nun. An active priest in New Jersey, Abaya visited Tamayo and the others at St. Philomena parish in Carson CA in April 1980, and allegedly assaulted the girl then. She became pregnant by one of the priests (not Abaya). Victim filed suit in 1984 but the LA archdiocese claimed they could not locate any of the seven priests, so none could be questioned by the victim’s attorney or court. The suit was eventually dismissed.

In 1991, Santiago Tamayo held a news conference in LA, publicly admitting to the abuse and apologizing to the victim for his own offenses and for recruiting the other priests. In 2007, the LA archdiocese paid $500,000 to settle the victim’s case. Besides Abaya and Tamayo, the priests were Victor Balbin, Honorato (Henry) Caboang (also spelled Cabaong), Angel Cruces, Sylvio Lacar, and Valentine Tugade.

A Rev. Ruben V. Abaya, JCD was listed in a 2013 Catholic directory as Defender of the Bond of the Laoag diocese and as chaplain for Monasterio de Santa Clara, a convent in Laoag City, province of Illocos Norte. The listing remained in June 2017. It is not known if he is the same Ruben V. Abaya accused of abuse in the US in the early 1980s.

$21 Million Suit Filed in Alleged Seductions by Priests, by Roger Gillott, Associated Press, 02.08.84

Milla v. Tamayo, 187 Cal.App.3d 1453, 03.04.87

Pain Was Affair's Gift to Priest, Woman, by Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 03.28.91

Priest in Sex Scandal Was Advised to Stay Out of U.S., by Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 03.28.91

Ex-Priest Apologizes for Seducing Teen-Ager, by Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 03.29.91

Woman Seeks to Find Priest She Says Fathered Her Child, by Beth Shuster, Los Angeles Times [CA], 05.07.02

Shattered Faith, by Nick Green, Daily Breeze [CA], 12.05.07

Legal Battle Finally Ends for Victim of Priest Abuse, by Susannah Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times [CA], 12.05.07

Tamayo File from LA Archdiocese released 01.31.13

Tamayo File from LA Archdiocese, released 01.31.13

Diocese of Laoag page, 2012-2013 Catholic Directory of the Philippines [Claretian Publications]

Rev. Raul Cabonce

Butuan diocese, Philippines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accused in 2011 of sexual abuse, including rape, of a 17-year-old girl at a parish in Poblacion, Tubay, Agusan del Norte. The girl was from a large, impoverished family. Cabonce had given her an academic scholarship in exchange for her services as his housekeeper. The incidents were said to have occurred between September 2010 and March 14, 2011 in the priest's room in the parish's convent. The girl said guns were visible in the priest's room and he threatened to kill her family if she told. The priest denied the allegations.

In August 2011, the girl filed charges with the provincial prosecutor of rape, acts of lasciviousness, and child abuse against the priest. At around the same time, Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos removed Cabonce from the parish and assigned him to his "bishop's palace" in Ampayon, Butuan City, telling a reporter, "He is in my custody." A women's rights group, Gabriela, urged Bishop Pueblos to surrender Cabonce to civil authorities, accusing the bishop of protecting the priest. In the meantime, the bishop announced that he had created a committee to investigate the allegations against Cabonce.

Reported as of August 2011 to be living with his bishop, Juan de Dios Pueblos, at the Bishop's Residence in Butuan City, Philippines. The alleged victim had filed a criminal complaint; the outcome of this process has not been covered in the news media. Bishop Pueblos announced that the church was launching an investigation, but he has provided no further information. Cabonce is not listed in online church directories. No further information found in June 2017.

Priest Accused of Raping 17-Year-Old Girl, by Ben Serrano, 07.05.11

Agusan Norte Catholic Priest Denies Charges of Rape, by Ben Serrano, GMA News, 07.06.11

Bishop Confirms He has Custody of Priest Accused of Rape, by Franklin Caliguid, Inquirer Mindanao, 08.27.11

Parish Priest Accused of Rape by his 18-Year-Old Helper, GMA Network, 08.28.11

Catholic Priest Accused of Raping a Minor Filipina, by Kristine L. Alave, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 08.28.11

Gabriela Wants Bishop Pueblos to Surrender Priest Accused of Rape, GMA News Online, 08.30.11

Gabriela Calls on Butuan Bishop to Stop Coddling Priest Charged with Rape of Minor, by Ina Alleco R. Silverio, bulatlat.com, 08.30.11

Philippine Priest Probed Over Charges of Rape, Molestation, by Barbara Mae Dacanay, Gulf News, 09.01.11

CBCP Seals its Lips on Butuan Priest's Pending Rape Charges, GMA News, 09.24.11

Rev. Hermy Dave O. Ceniza

San Francisco CA archdiocese, US

Fresno CA diocese, US

Unknown diocese, Philippines

 

 

 

Filipino priest who worked in the US in the early 1990s. Accused in an April 2010 lawsuit against the Fresno CA diocese of sexually abusing and stalking a 17-year-old altar boy at St. Francis Church, Bakersfield CA, 1991-1993. The suit claimed fraud by the Fresno diocese, accusing Bishop John T. Steinbock of breaking a promise. The boy had called church officials in 1993; Bishop Steinbock met with the boy and promised him Ceniza would no longer be a priest or have access to children. In 2009, however, the plaintiff discovered that Ceniza was still an active priest in the Philippines, prompting him to sue for fraud. He dropped his suit in August 2010. His attorney announced that church documents released to him subsequent to the filing of the suit revealed that Steinbock had in fact removed Ceniza from ministry in Fresno and sent letters about the priest to his former diocese in the Philippines and to the San Francisco archdiocese, where Ceniza had worked (at St. Gregory’s in San Mateo) before being transferred to Bakersfield. “The bishop took affirmative action not only to protect children in the Fresno diocese, but also at the other dioceses,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Joseph C. George. Working as a priest in the Philippines as of 2010, according to news reports. Whereabouts and status beyond that time not known.

Lawsuit Filed Claiming Clergy Sex Abuse, Cover-up, KERO, 04.07.10

Lawsuit Claims Priest Was Relocated, by Steve E. Swenson, Bakersfield Californian, 04.08.10

Suit against Fresno Diocese Alleges Priest Abuse, by Pablo Lopez, The Fresno Bee, 04.08.10

Sex Abuse Test Case in Fresno Court, by Pablo Lopez, Fresno Bee, 07.11.10

Fraud Case against Fresno Diocese Delayed, Fresno Bee, 07.31.10

Ex-Altar Boy Drops Suit against Fresno Diocese, by Pablo Lopez, Fresno Bee, 08.13.10

Rev. Agustin B. Cuenca, O.F.M.

Order of Friars Minor
(Franciscans)

San Pedro Bautista province, Philippines

Manila archdiocese, Philippines

Cubao diocese, Philippines

Per the book, People, Priests and Pedophiles by Earl K. Wilkinson, as summarized in the Catholics for a Free Choice 2004 report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Cuenca was accused in August 1990 of sexually abusing two male acolytes, ages 15 and 16, during December 1988 – June 1990. Cuenca's accusers said other boys were abused, too. A criminal case was dropped because the law against acts of lasciviousness applied to boys only if they are under age 12. Active. Guest master of St. Gregory the Great Friary in Quezon City; Copywriter for Franciscan Magazine. Cuenca appears to have still been in ministry as of August 2016, referred to as Friar Ting.

People, Priests and Pedophiles, Earl K. Wilkinson, (Manila: International Research Foundation, 1994), 89-90.

The Holy See and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Republic of the Philippines, catholicsforchoice.org, 12.04

Order of Friars Minor page, 2012-2013 Catholic Directory of the Philippines,claretianpublications.com, 2012-2013

The Provincial Communicator, OFM Franciscan Magazine, Province of San Pedro Bautista Philippines, Vol. 3- 2014

Facebook, 08.31.16.

 

Rev. Arwyn N. Diesta

• Los Angeles CA archdiocese, USA

Sorsogon diocese, Philippines

US military archdiocese

Ordained for the diocese of Sorsogon, Philippines, in 1978, but immediately began working in the Los Angeles CA archdiocese. Returned from L.A. to the Philippines in 1988. Accused in 1992 of sexually abusing a teenage seminarian in L.A. 1982-1988. In 1993 L.A.'s Cardinal Mahony urged Diesta's Philippines bishop to keep Diesta away from teenage boys. When the bishop dismissed the suggestion, Mahony wrote to the Vatican: "[I]f Father Diesta has indeed engaged in such sexual misconduct in the past, and I am convinced that he has, then he should not be in any ministry involving young people — especially young seminarians."

In 2001, Mahony ran into Diesta working as a U.S. Navy chaplain and learned he also worked at a seminary in the Philippines. Mahony wrote again to the Vatican, which replied in 2002 that Diesta's bishop still refused to remove the priest.

Mahony then informed church officials with the US Military, L.A. police, and authorities in the Philippines.

Active. Listed online in May 2017 as pastor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Casiguran, Sorsogon, Philippines; diocesan Presbyteral Council; Director of diocesan Commission on Worship.

LA Archdiocesan Report 2.17.04 page 4

The Holy See and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Republic of the Philippines, catholicsforchoice.org, December 2004

LA Archdiocesan Report Addendum 11.15.05

LA Times Database 4.20.06

Diesta File Released by L.A. Archdiocese, 01.31.13

Vatican Impeded Mahony Attempts to Remove Priests, Files Show, by Victoria Kim and Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times, 02.16.13

Does Cardinal Mahony deserve as much understanding as Christopher Dorner?, by Eugene Cullen Kennedy, National Catholic Reporter, 03.04.13

Diocese of Sorgoson page, 2012-2013 Catholic Directory of the Philippines [Claretian Publications]

Catholic Directory/Religious Men [Claretian Publications], 05.26.17

Rev. Benedicto "Ben" Ejares

Cebu archdiocese, Philippines

Accused of lascivious conduct toward seven female high school students while hearing their confessions at a Life in the Spirit seminar at the Abellana National High School in November 2006. The girls said Ejares caressed their arms and backs, toyed with their brastraps, and made inappropriate comments. In October 2007, the Cebu City Prosecutor dismissed the charges of child abuse, but the Department of Social Welfare and Development filed a motion to re-consider, submitting the girls' psychological evaluations as additional evidence. In February 2008 the Cebu City Prosecutor reversed his earlier decision and found probable cause to charge Ejares with child abuse. Ejares successfully contested the ruling and the case was dismissed. The archdiocese placed him on "floating status" for a few years, then assigned Ejares to a parish in Consolacion, followed by a parish in Barili. Active. Said in November 2014 to be in team ministry at St. Anne's in Barili. In August 2016 he was listed on the diocesan website as assigned to St. Raphael Archangel in Aloguinsan, Cebu.

Priest Named, Charged in Sex Scam in Cebu, GMA News [Philippines], 04.12.07

Lawyer Urges Church to Present Fr. Ben Ejares, by Fred P. Languido, Phil Star, 04.13.07

Vidal Says Fr. Ejares in Manila, Cebu Daily News, 10.10.07

Fr. Ejares asks DOJ to Junk Sellon’s Ruling, by Nilda Gallo, Cebu Daily News, 03.13.08

‘It’s Up to Church to Sanction Priest’, Cebu Daily News 08.14.09

Sleeping Inside a Mausoleum, by Bobby G. Nalzaro, Sun Star, 11.02.14

Monsignor Cristobal Garcia

Order of Preachers (Dominican)

Los Angeles archdiocese, US

Cebu archdiocese, Philippines

In the 1980s, US church officials told Cebu archbishop Cardinal Ricardo Vidal that Garcia had given cocaine to minors in Los Angeles and sexually abused them. Cardinal Vidal accepted Garcia nonetheless. In 1992, L.A. archbishop Cardinal Mahony told Cardinal Vidal that Garcia's younger brother had reported being sexually molested by Garcia at age 15. Garcia remained a prominent Cebu priest, attaining monsignor status in 1997. In 2005, Garcia admitted to the Dallas Morning News that he had had sex with two altar boys in the Los Angeles archdiocese in the 1980s. His priesthood in Cebu remained unaffected. He finally was removed in 2012 by Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma, Vidal's successor, following inquiries by a National Geographic reporter into his possible connection to ivory smuggling.

**

Ordained as a Dominican priest in 1982, Garcia began working at St. Dominic’s in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1983. In August 1985, a family told the pastor, Fr. Vincent Serpa, that Garcia was giving cocaine to minors in the parish. Soon after, while Garcia was saying Mass, the pastor went into the priest’s bedroom to search for evidence and found a 17-year-old boy in Garcia’s bed. Serpa told a nun, Jane Levikow, who reported Garcia to the police. Garcia was removed by the Dominicans and left the archdiocese in late 1985, saying that he would seek therapy in his hometown diocese of Cebu in the Philippines.

According to the Dominicans’ attorney, the order was assured by the Cebu archdiocese that Garcia would not work with young people. However, the Cebu archbishop, Cardinal Vidal, allowed Garcia to resume ministry,and it appears that the priest was incardinated to the Cebu archdiocese roughly around 1988. In May 1988, one of his victims in L.A. filed a lawsuit. The filing of the suit, and Garcia’s alleged crimes against the plaintiff, were widely reported in the press. This appeared to have no impact on Garcia’s ministry in Cebu.

In 1991 or early 1992, Garcia founded a monastic religious society for boys and young men, the Society of the Angel of Peace (SAP). This prompted Garcia’s younger brother, who was living in the US, to write to the Los Angeles archdiocese. In a 9/10/92 letter to Rev. Timothy Dyer, L.A.’s Vicar for Clergy, the brother said that when he was 15, Garcia had molested him. “I am very worried now because Fr. Cris has converted one of my families [sic] beach houses into a seminary. It is quite secluded and I am terrified that he will take advantage of the seminarians [sic] naivete and eventually the situation will propagate itself.”

A version of Garcia’s personnel file released by the L.A. archdiocese in 2013 contains a 10/19/92 letter from Cardinal Mahony to the Cebu archdiocese, enclosing the brother’s letter, which Mahony describes in his cover letter as "strong and compelling." He also recaps Garcia's involvement with cocaine and a "young man" in the 1980s, and asks the addressee (presumably Cardinal Vidal, but it’s not certain, as the name is redacted) to conduct a “full, confidential inquiry” into Garcia and to send Mahony “a written response.” The file contains no response from Cebu. In 1997, Garcia was promoted to monsignor.

In 2005, Garcia admitted in a Dallas Morning News interview that he had had sex with the two altar boys at St. Dominic’s in L.A. in the early 1980s. He was quoted as saying that one of the boys “not only seduced me, he also raped me.”

His ministry remained unaffected. For years before his June 2012 removal, he chaired Cebu’s Archdiocesan Commission on Worship; managed the archdiocese’s two publications; served as chaplain to two lay groups; and was rector of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Jesus Nazareno in Talisay. In 2011, he helped direct the installation of Cebu archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines from 2011 to 2013.

Sometime before his June 2012 removal, Garcia was interviewed by a National Geographic reporter about his famous ivory collection and the country’s extensive trade in illegal ivory. The magazine published its exposé in September 2012, triggering much reaction. Cebu archbishop Palma then announced that Garcia had been suspended the previous June because of a Vatican investigation of sexual abuse by the priest.

In October 2012, archbishop emeritus Cardinal Vidal held a news conference to say that Garcia had not been expelled by the Dominican order in the 1980s, as the Dominicans had claimed. The order had granted Garcia an “indult exclaustration,” Vidal said, which allowed him to transfer out of the order to a diocese if he could find a “benevolent bishop” to accept him. Vidal said he was that bishop.

In January 2014, the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation said it found "no sufficient evidence" to link Garcia to the illegal trade of ivory.

Removed without privileges June 2012 by Cebu archbishop, pending the results of a Vatican investigation, which are not yet known. Garcia presumably remains a Catholic priest. Unable to ascertain whereabouts/status in June 2017.

Headline: 'It's As If No One Wants to Face What Happened,' One Father Said.; Church, Families Deal with Child Sex Abuse by Priests, by Marita Hernandez and John Dart, Los Angeles Times, 06.20.88

Priest Accused of Rapes Finds Prominence, by Brooks Egerton, Dallas Morning News, 03.16.05

LA Times Database, 04.20.06

Snapshots of Catholic Priests Accused of Abuse, Associated Press, 04.14.10

Priest Who Had Sex with Boys Now Tells How to Smuggle Ivory, by Brooks Egerton, Dallas Morning News, 09.18.12

Priest Linked to Sex Abuse in US, Expelled by Dominicans, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 09.24.12

Priest Who Had Sex with Boys Vanishes from Public Eye, by Brooks Egerton, Dallas Morning News, 09.25.12

Ivory Investigation Sparks Coverage and Inquiries in the Philippines, National Geographic, 09.25.12

Priest Suspended on 20-Year-Old Child Abuse Raps, by Connie E. Fernandez, The Inquirer, 09.26.12

Vatican Sacked Cebu Priest Months Ahead of Ivory Scandal, Says Church Exec, by Connie E. Fernandez, The Inquirer, 09.27.12

Vatican Finally Suspends Priest Who Admitted Sex with Boys, by Brooks Egerton, Dallas Morning News, 09.27.12

Order Didn’t Banish Priest, Cardinal Explains, by Bernadette A. Parco, sunstar.com, 10.04.12

Garcia File from LA Archdiocese, released 1.21.13

Father Cristobal Garcia: Priest Fled to the Philippines and Rose in the Church, by Dana Bartholomew, Los Angeles Daily News, 01.25.13

Garcia File from LA Archdiocese, released 01.31.13

Priest Cleared of Links to Ivory Trade. Philippines Investigators Say Insufficient Evidence Found, by Joe Torres, ucanews.com (Union of Catholic Asian News), 01.31.14

Rev. Orestes M. Huerta

• Dodge City KS diocese, US

Boac diocese, Philippines

 

 

Priest of Boac diocese, Philippines. Worked temporarily in Dodge City KS diocese in the late 1990s. Per Dodge City diocese's website in May 2010, credible allegations of abuse were made against Huerta, involving conduct that occurred before 1990. Boac bishop stated in August 2010 he would not investigate allegations “based on hazy and unverified reports from the internet.” In 2012, however, the Dodge City diocese stated that they had learned of Huerta's alleged abuses from sources in Boac, not Dodge City, and that the incidents had occurred there in the Philippines.

Listed as "diocesan priest with no parish assignment" in an online 2012-2013 Catholic Directory. Resident priest, Sacred Heart Pastoral Center, Boac. In June 2017, remains listed on the diocesan website as at Sacred Heart Pastoral Center, Mataas na Bayan, Boac, Marinduque.

Update: Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, 05.10

Dodge City Diocese Says There Are “credible” Claims of Abuse against Two Former Priests, by Shaun Hittle, Lawrence Journal-World, 07.09.10

Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse in Kansas Still Working in Philippines, by Shaun Hittle, Lawrence Journal World, 07.21.10

Philippine Bishop Ignore Internet Claims about Priest Who Served in Kansas, Catholic Sentinel, 08.17.10

Church Fails to Verify Priest’s Status, by Shaun Hittle, Lawrence Journal World, 08.29.10

Priest Accused of Abuse in US Remains in Ministry in Philippines, Catholic Culture, 08.30.10

Update: Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, Diocese of Dodge City, March 2012

Directory Entry for Huerta, Diocese of Boac, 12.29.14

Rev. Gabriel Madangeng, Jr.

Bontoc-Lagawe apostolic vicariate, Philippines

Accused in 2007 and 2008 of raping three underage girls. Two of the girls filed criminal complaints with prosecutors and a third settled out of court. The outcomes of the two criminal cases are unknown.

In a sworn statement to law enforcement, one girl said that in July 2006, when she was 14, Madangeng had bound her arms and legs to a bed and sexually assaulted her. The alleged assault took place in the Lay Formation Center in the town of Natonin in Mountain Province. She said he threatened her and told her not to cry for help.

Church officials with the Bontoc-Lagawe vicariate reportedly offered to pay tuition and the girl's medication in exchange for an out-of-court settlement, but the girl's family refused. "We are going to fight it all the way, no settlements," said the girl's father, a local policeman. It's not clear exactly when the girl filed criminal charges; the fact that she had filed was reported in May 2008.

In June 2008, another girl, age 17, filed a criminal complaint alleging five counts of rape and seven counts of acts of lasciviousness by Madangeng. In a sworn statement, said she was 15 from August to December 2006 when she was raped "many times" by Madangeng at St. Rita Parish Convent in Bontoc. She said she did not report the priest immediately out of fear that her scholarship at a local Catholic high school would be revoked.

Madangeng vigorously denied both girls' allegations. "I am a man of the cloth and I could not have committed the alleged acts which are in total violation of my vocation," he was quoted as saying.

A bishop speaking on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called for a church investigation. Calling the situation "scandalizing," Bishop Leonardo Medroso, the CBCP's chief canon law expert, said, "The superior in the diocese must act immediately to determine the truth of the accusations." Madangeng's supervising bishop at the time was Bishop Rodolfo Beltran.

In July 2008, Innabuyog-Gabriela, an alliance of indigenous women's organizations, called on Bishop Beltran to suspend Madangeng and apologize to the girls. Beltran said he had removed Madangeng months earlier, when charges were first filed, and that he would apologize to the girls only if the priest was found guilty. "I told Madangeng that he had to face all the charges against him. I wanted him to defend himself," Beltran said.

Beltran now heads the San Fernando de La Union diocese; the top position at the Bontoc-Lagawe apostolic vicariate is vacant.

The status of the criminal cases against Madangeng is unknown, as are his current church status and whereabouts. Online sources provide conflicting information. According to a 2013 GMA News article, Madangeng was re-assigned to another parish after 2009, that is, after the criminal complaints were filed by the two girls.

But in an undated online directory – which seems to have once appeared on the website of UCA, the Union of Catholic Asian News – Madangeng is listed as "on leave."

Unable to ascertain whereabouts/status in June 2017.

 

Priest Faces Sex Charges, by Dexter A. See, Tempo, 05.16.08

14-Year-Old Convent Girl Cries Rape Vs Priest, by Maria Elena Catajan, Sun Star [Philippines], 05.11.08

Sun.star: Another Teen Cries Rape Vs Priest, GMA News, 06.23.08


Speedy Resolution of MP Priest's Rape Case Sought, Sun.Star [Philippines], 06.25.08

Bishop Wants Rape Case Vs. Priest Resolved, by Anthony Vargas, Manila Times [Philippines], 06.26.08

Bontoc Priest Cited in 2 Sex Cases, Filipino Reporter, 07.04.08

Tagle: Care for Victim, Sex Abuser Is 'Asian Way' to Healing, by Marc Jayson Cayabyab/KBK, GMA news, 02.28.13

 

Rev. Manuel Perez "Benildo" Maramba, O.S.B.

Order of St. Benedict (Benedictines)

El Paso TX diocese, US

Las Cruces NM diocese, US

Manila archdiocese, Philippines

 

Recalled by his order to the Philippines in 1977 after accusations of sexual abuse of boys in New Mexico; appears to still be active in ministry in 2015.

**

"Dom Benildo." Known internationally as a composer of sacred music. Musician-in-residence at St. John's College in Santa Fe NM 1974-76 and priest at St. Genevieve’s Church in Las Cruces NM 1976-77. Also worked at St. Francis of Assisi Newman Center at New Mexico Western University in Silver City NM. Multiple lawsuits in the 2000s with accusations he sexually abused Las Cruces boys in the mid-1970s. At least one boy was as young as 6 years old. Incidents were said to have occurred during sleepovers at the parish, camping trips, and a trip to Disneyland. Several settlements with alleged victims of Maramba were reached between 2007 and 2011.

Appears to still be active. Listed online in 2012-2013 Catholic Directory as a monk of Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat. Also listed as a faculty member at
San Beda College in Mendiola, Manila; Maramba performed at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music in 2014; listed as a Defender of the Bond of CBCP's National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal.

No further information found in June 2017.

Father, Wherefore Art Thou? Former New Mexico Priest Was Sent to the Philippines in the 1970s, by L. Brendan, Santa Fe Reporter, 07.07.04

Priest Accused in 1970s Abuse Case, by Paul Logan, Albuquerque Journal [New Mexico], 08.07.04

Las Cruces Diocese, St. Genevieve's Named in Abuse Lawsuit, by Jose L. Medina, Las Cruces Sun-News [New Mexico], 03.01.07

Lawsuit Alleging Abuse by Ex-St. Genevieve's Priest Settled, by Ashley Meeks, Sun-News, 04.02.10

San Beda Monk Implicated in Three Sexual Abuse Cases in New Mexico, Manila Standard Today, 04.05.10

Sex Abuse Case Catches Alumni by Surprise, UCA News [Philippines], 04.08.10

4 of 30 Abusive Catholic Priests are Pinoys, Sun Star, 04.17.10

Suit Claims Abuse by Las Cruces Priests, El Paso Times, 04.18.10

El Paso, Las Cruces Dioceses Settle on Sexual Abuse Suit, by Daily News Report, Alamogordo Daily News, 05.21.11

Rev. Apolinario "Jing" Mejorada, O.S.A.

Order of St. Augustine (Augustinians)

Santo Niño de Cebu-Philippines province

Cebu archdiocese, Philippines

San Pablo diocese, Philippines

Remains in active ministry today despite: 1) admitting in an affidavit to “wrong and shameful acts;” 2) his order’s settlement with three former altar boys in 2000; and 3) news reports that a 2002 church investigation found him guilty. In June 2003, City Prosecutor chose not to indict him. Appeal by alleged victim was pending as of 2011.
**

In October 1999, an altar boy at Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño in Cebu City told a priest and the boy’s seminarian-brother that he had been sexually assaulted on two recent occasions by Mejorada, the rector of the Basilica. In October 2000, Mejorada and the Augustinian order settled with the complainant, Mitchal Gatchalian, and two other alleged victims, also former altar boys, paying each youth $2,400 (120,000 pesos). The three youths believed that Mejorada would be sent to Africa. In the spring of 2002, however, Gatchalian was told that Mejorada had been readmitted to the order and was back in Cebu. The youth went to the police, who interviewed the priest but didn’t pursue the case. They told the complainant instead to write to Cebu archbishop Cardinal Vidal.

On July 19, 2002, the three former altar boys and another alleged victim spoke to news reporters, sharing a letter they had sent to Cardinal Vidal. “We are willing to face the world to tell the truth, no matter how shameful and humiliating … if that should prove the only way we can stop the abuse of other young boys,” they said. That same day, a member of the Augustinian community, Fr. Ambrosio Galindez OSA, told reporters that Mejorada had admitted to wrongdoing.

Cardinal Vidal said he would form a committee to investigate Mejorada. In January 2003, the archdiocese publicly reported its finding. It suggested but did not say definitively that Mejorada was guilty, and it did not propose any sanctions. However, some news outlets quoted an unnamed source inside the church who said that members of the archdiocesan investigative team “were all convinced” of Mejorada’s guilt. A few days later, Gatchalian and another victim filed a criminal complaint with the Cebu City Prosecutor’s office. “Seeing no justice from within the church leadership, I have decided to seek justice from the regular courts,” Gatchalian said in his affidavit.

In May 2003, Associate City Prosecutor Rogelio del Prado recommended indicting Mejorada for “acts of lasciviousness.” Reviewing Prosecutor Nicolas Sellon rejected this recommendation, ruling that a December 1999 demand letter by Gatchalian’s attorney for 10 million pesos proved that the youth was only after money. In June 2003, City Prosecutor Jose Pedrosa approved Sellon’s ruling and the criminal case against Mejorada was dismissed. Gatchalian appealed. As of March 2011, his case was still pending in the Court of Appeals.

Appears to be active. Featured panelist in November 2011 Augustinian conference in Quezon City, Philippines. Listed as Parochial Vicar, Mother of Good Counsel Parish, San Pedro, Laguna (see also staff list on last page of spring 2013 parish bulletin); Local Vocation Director, Augustinian Province of Santo Niño de Cebu-Philippines. That listing remains in June 2017.

Augustine Priest Charged with Sex Abuse, by Lino Gilbert K. Parone Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer, 07.21.02

Former Altar Boys File Abuse Complaint, Gulf News [UAE], 07.23.02

2 Boys Sue Priest for Sex Abuse, Sun Star, 01.16.03

Augustinian Priest Sued for Sex Abuses, by Lino Parone, Jr. and Suzzane Salva, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 01.17.03

Fr. Jing Cleared of Sex Rap: Money Hunt, by Karlon N. Rama, Philippines Sun Star, 06.09.03

The Holy See and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Republic of the Philippines, catholicsforchoice.org, 12.04

Bishop Wants Rape Case vs. Priest Resolved, by Anthony Vargas, Manila Times (Philippines), 06.26.08

Bontoc Priest Cited in 2 Sex Cases, Filipino Reporter, 07.04.08

Ex-Altar Boy, Now a Lawyer, 'Not Actively Pursuing' Case Vs. Priest, Sun Star, 03.21.11

List of Priests in San Pablo Diocese, frjessie.blogspot.com, 09.18.14

Augustinian Province of Santo Nino de Cebu website, 01.06.15

Rev. Joseph Skelton, Jr.

Detroit archdiocese, US

Washington DC archdiocese, US

Manila archdiocese, Philippines

Tagbilaran diocese, Philippines

 

 

American. In 1988 Skelton pleaded guilty to abusing a 15-year-old boy in his room at St. John Provincial Seminary, Detroit. Given three years' probation. Dismissed from seminary. Moved to the Philippines and finished his seminary studies in Manila. In 2001, Skelton was ordained for the Tagbilaran diocese, Philippines. In 2003 Detroit archdiocesan officials reportedly informed Skelton's bishop in the Philippines of his conviction. Skelton remained in ministry as a parish priest and musician, leading Praise and Worship gatherings throughout the Philippines. A 2008 lawsuit in the US accused Skelton of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in Washington DC in 1984, when Skelton was in the seminary. Skelton had been Detroit MI-based but was working at a DC parish under Rev. George Stallings, who was also accused by the boy. In 2010, in a response to a widely distributed AP story about Skelton, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines announced that he would be moved from his parish in a central Tagbilaran city to an undisclosed place. Tagbilaran bishop Leonardo Medroso said he would investigate but added: "What obstacle can there be if he has already served his punishment or penalty?"

Active. Cited in a March 2014 newspaper column as a priest with Santa Monica Church, Albuquerque, Bohol province. Listed online as chair of the Tagbilaran diocese's Commission for Sacred Music and as assisting resident priest at Santa Monica, Albuquerque, Bohol. Featured as a performer and preacher in Catholic charismatic gatherings that include young people, as shown in this Youth for El Shaddai Bohol event in 2012 and this prayer meeting of the Sacred Heart Catholic Charismatic Community in Cebu City in 2014.

Shown to be active in an October 2016 news article, as one of three "exorcist priests" sent to a high school in Sagbayan due to "bizarre behavior" by students who were said to have been possibly "possessed by spirits."

Tagbilaran Diocese Assignment

Tagbilaran Diocese – Ministries

Detroit Archdiocese: Priests and Policy Status Report, by Ned McGrath, Archdiocese of Detroit, 10.09

Fr. Joseph Skelton's Music, Father Joseph Skelton, Jr. Website, Downloaded 10.15.09

Suit Settled Involving Renegade Priest, by Adelle M. Banks, EthicsDaily.com
10.15.09

Archdiocese Didn't Publicize Priest's Abuse Cases, Group Says, by Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, 10.26.09

Bohol Priest Has Skeletons in His Closet, Manila Standard Today, 10.29.09

Predator Priests Shuffled around Globe, by Bradley Brooks and Alessandra Rizzo, Associated Press, 04.14.10

Philippine Church to Move US Priest over Sex Scandal, My Sinchew, 04.19.10

Catholic Church to Move US Priest over Sex Scandal, Inquirer, 04.19.10

Youth for El Shaddai Bohol Event, YouTube, 08.18.12

Diocese of Tagbilaran page, 2012-2013 Catholic Directory of the Philippines [Claretian Publications]

Are Bicyclists the New King of the Road?, by Bobit Avila, The Freeman, Philippine Star, 03.31.14

Prayer Meeting of the Sacred Heart Catholic Charismatic Community in Cebu City, YouTube and Facebook, 09.30.14

Church inquiry, exorcism on "possessed" Sagbayan students today, By Rey Tutas, Bohol Chronicle Daily, 10.12.16

Note: We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This table was last updated June 15, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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