Assignment Record – Rev. Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera aka Nicolas Aguilar

Summary of Case: Ordained a priest of the Tehuacan diocese in Mexico in 1970, Rev. Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera was sent to the U.S. archdiocese of Los Angeles in March 1987, after he was severely attacked at the Cuacnopalan parish where he was pastor. An investigator in the case, who also lived in the parish neighborhood, said Aguilar-Rivera often had young men and teenagers spend the night with him. The investigator suspected the priest was attacked by one or more of them. Aguilar-Rivera was assigned to an East Los Angeles parish, and was transferred from there to a South Central Los Angeles parish after just a few months. In December 1987 the young sons of two of the many Spanish-speaking families whose trust Aguilar-Rivera had gained told their parents, who told the archdiocese, that the priest had sexually abused them. Aguilar-Rivera was confronted with the allegations by archdiocesan officials. The officials did not inform police, and Aguilar-Rivera fled to Mexico. California police estimated that Aguilar-Rivera sexually abused at least 26 children from both Los Angeles parishes during his nine months in the archdiocese. He is said to have abused at least 60 Mexican children, both before and after his stay in California. Aguilar-Rivera was charged with abuse in Mexico in 1997, was convicted of the charges in 2003, but was not sentenced because the judge determined that the charges were too old. He was allowed to remain in ministry. In July 2009 Aguilar-Rivera's laicization was announced. In March 2013 Aguilar-Rivera remains at large and is on Mexico's federal Most Wanted list on charges of rape and indecent assault. He is also wanted in Los Angeles for charges of lewd acts on a child.

: 1970
Laicized: 2009


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State/Country Position Notes


Tehuacan bishop was Rafael Ayal y Ayala (1962-1985), followed by Norberto Rivera Carrera (1985-1995)



A former minor seminary student in Tehuacan said in 2004 that one of his classmates in the 1970s told him Aguilar had attacked him, and that everyone knew to stay away from Aguilar. The former student said that when he told the priests in charge about the incident, he (the student) was expelled from the seminary.

Puebla, Mexico    
1976 1987 San Sebastián Cuacnopalan

Puebla, Mexico

  In 1986 or 1987 Aguilar was attacked and found in a pool of blood at the church residence where he was pastor. A former sherrif and neighbor who helped investigate said that Aguilar always had young men and teenagers spend the night on weekends. The former sherriff suspected the priest was attacked by one or more of these guests.

March 16, 1987

Los Angeles archbishop was Roger Michael Mahony (1985-2011)

May 18, 1987 Our Lady of Guadalupe

Los Angeles (El Sereno)

In Dec. 1987 two altar boys from Our Lady of Guadalupe reported they had been sexually abused by Aguilar. Three months later Aguilar was indicted by a grand jury of 19 counts of lewn acts, involving 10 children.

In June 2009 a former altar boy accused Aguilar-Rivera in a lawsuit of having sexually abused him at a Catholic church near downtown Los Angeles in 1987, just before the priest fled to Mexico. The abuse is said to have occurred when the accuser was 9 or 10 years old.

CA associate pastor (pro tem) Aguilar was transferred out of Mexico and granted permission by Los Angeles' Cardinal Mahony to work in the archdiocese, despite a letter from Bishop Rivera of the Tehuacan diocese that warned of Aguilar's "homosexual problem". Church expert Richard Sipe has testified that "homosexual problem" is known code for a problem of sex with minor boys.
May 18, 1987 Jan. 9, 1988 St. Agatha's

Los Angeles (South-Central)

Per California police, Aguilar sexually abused at least 26 children during his nine months as a priest in the archdiocese. At St. Agatha's, the incidents were said to have occurred in a church classroom, where the children were teaching Aguilar-Rivera English.

CA 2/2 Pastor was Rev. James H. Barnes. Aguilar fled from Los Angeles to Mexico in Jan. 1988 after being confronted by with allegations of child sexual abuse. He told archdiocesan officials he was going; they did not stop him, nor did they alert police.
Jan. 9, 1988 1992     Mexico   In Feb. 1988 an Aguilar victim informed the Los Angeles archdiocese that he reported his abuse to police. In March 1988 Cardinal Mahony informed Bishop Rivera in Mexico of the allegations against Aguilar-Rivera and asked that the priest cooperate with the L.A. Police Department. This was after the L.A. Times broke the story about the allegations against Aguilar. In his reply, the Tehuacan bishop agreed to cooperate, but said Aguilar-Rivera had not returned to the Tehuacan diocese.


Mexico City archbishop was Ernesto Corripio y Ahumada (1977-1994)

1993 Nuestra Señora de Perpetuo Socorro Torre Blanca Mexico associate pastor  
    San Antonia de Padua


In 2006 Aguilar was accused in a lawsuit of raping a 12 year-old boy at this parish in Mexico in October 1994. Aguilar's accuser said he was an altar boy, and the priest became a close friend of the family. He said the priest grabbed him and sodomized him, then told him that if he told he would do the same to his siblings. The accuser said he reported the abuse to authorities, but that nothing was done. Further, he said he and his family were ostracized by other parishioners and authorities.


Defendents in the 2006 lawsuit were Cardinal Mahony, Cardinal Rivera, and Rev. Nicolás Aguilar-Rivera. The Cardinals were accused of helping Aguilar escape, a charge they both denied. (A detailed webpage with diocesan and legal documents regarding this case can be found

late 1995

Mario Espinosa Contreras was Tehuacan bishop (1996-2005)

  San Vicente Ferrer/San Nicolas Tolentino


Aguilar was accused of sexually abusing four Tehuacan boys in 1997. One of the boys, whom the priest was supposed to be preparing for first communion, told his parents that Aguilar had been keeping him after first communion classes and sexually abusing him for months. The boy said the priest threatened to kill his mother or his younger brother if he told. The mother took the boys to the police station to report the abuse. Through her unrelenting efforts Aguilar was convicted-but it took six years and the conviction was only of a misdemeanor abuse charge.

According to one mother from Tehuacan, a diocesan official told her Aguilar had abused about 60 kids, which is why the diocese couldn't afford to pay for her son's counseling.

In an April 2010 lawsuit, Aguilar was accused of of repeatedly raping a 12 year-old Mexican boy in 1997.

Puebla, Mexico  

San Vicente Ferrer was a chapel within the San Nicolas Tolentino parish.

Aguilar was charged in Mexico in the 1997 abuse case. He was kept in ministry, even after being convicted in 2003. A Mexican judge found him guilty but, because of the statute of limitations, Aguilar was not sentenced.

1999   San Miguel Arcangel Mexico City Mexico    


Bishop of the Ciudad Lázaro Cárdenas diocese was Salvador Flores Huerta (1993-2006)

2001 Cathedral

  Mexico   This assignment is per news reports.


Puebla archbishop was Rosendo Huesca Pacheco (1977-2009)

      Mexico   This assignment is per news reports.
Cuernavaca bishop was Florencio Olvera Ochoa (2002-2009)       Mexico   This assignment is per news reports.
July 2009       Mexico  

In July 2009, Tehuacan bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez announced Aguilar-Rivera's laicization.

In Oct. 2011 Aguilar-Rivera was said to have been seen in Jonacatapec, which is a town in Morelos, Mexico.

In Feb. 2013 Aguilar-Rivera remained at large, and was on Mexico’s federal prosecutor’s Most Want List on charges of rape and indecent assault. He was also wanted in Los Angeles on 19 counts of lewd acts against a child.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1988)

Visiting Mexican Cleric Flees, Priest Sought in Alleged Molestation of Altar Boys, By Marita Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, February 20, 1988
Priest Now Suspected of Molesting 26, By Marita Hernandez and Mathis Chazanov, Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1988
Priest Formally Charged in Sex Abuse of 10 Boys, By William Overend, Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1988
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, June 20, 1988
Sex Abuse Allegations Against Los Angeles Archdiocese Priests, By Glenn F. Bunting, Ralph Frammolino, and Richard Winton, LA Times, August 18, 2002
LA Archdiocesan Report, Feb. 17, 2004
LA Archdiocesan Report Addendum, Nov. 15, 2005
LA Times Database, April 20, 2006
Attorneys: Mahony Ignored Warnings from Mexican Bishop, The Associated Press, carried in Herald Tribune [Los Angeles CA],
Downloaded April 30, 2004
Runaway Priests, Hiding in Plain Sight, Great Escapes, Cleric Slips Out of U.S., Continues to Work in Mexico, By Brooks Egerton and Brendan M. Case, Dallas Morning News, June 22, 2004
Runaway Priests, Hiding in Plain Sight, Beating the System, Dallas Morning News, June 22, 2004
Runaway Priests, Hiding in Plain Sight, The Human Toll, By Brooks Egerton, Dallas Morning News, June 22, 2004
Mexico Cardinal Sued over Alleged Abuse, By Julie Watson, The Associated Press, carried in San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2006
Man Allegedly Abused by Priest Sues U.S., Mexican Cardinals, By Linda Deutsch, The Associated Press, carried in The PressEnterprise [Los Angeles CA], September 19, 2006
Alleged Sex Abuse Victim Sues Cardinal Mahony, CBS 2, September 19, 2006
Tied to Abuse Case Detained in Mexico, By Lisa J. Adams, The Associated Press, carried in Charlotte Observer, September 20, 2006
Text of Lawsuit against L.A. Cardinal, By Matt C. Abbott, Renew America [Los Angeles CA], September 22, 2006
Accused Priest’s Long Flight From Law in U.S. and Mexico, By James C. McKinley Jr., The New York Times, October 21, 2006
Code Used to Discuss Problem Priests, Mexican Cardinal Says, By Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers [United States, Mexico], May 16, 2007
Letter Suggests Socal Church Official Knew Priest Would Flee, By Noaki Schwartz, Fresno Bee, August 28, 2007
Former Altar Boy Alleges in Suit That L.A. Priest Molested Him, By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2009
Mexican Bishop Announces Laicization of Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors, Catholic News Agency, July 31, 2009
Mexican Man Who Says He Was Raped by Priest Files Lawsuit Naming Mahony, Mexican Cardinal, Los Angeles Times, April 20,
Attorneys Sue LA, Mexico City Cardinal over Abuse, By Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press, April 20, 2010
Suit Alleges Cardinal Mahony Conspired to Hide Priest's Sexual Abuse of Children, By Carol Williams, Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2010
Accusations against Mexican Cardinal Are False, Asserts Archdiocese, Catholic News Agency, April 27, 2010
New Lawsuit Targets Dioceses in La, Mexico, Mercury News, December 10, 2010
Predators in Plain Sight: Priests Accused of Child Abuse Appear beyond the Reach of Law, CNN, October 29, 2011
The Aguilar Case, Documents from the Joaquín Aguilar Méndez Suit against Cardinal Mahony, Cardinal Rivera, and Rev. Nicolás Aguilar Rivera,
Fugitives from Justice: Roman Catholic Priests, By David Jackson, Gary Marx, Brian Boyer, David Eads, Katie Nieland, and Joe Germuska, Chicago Tribune, March 11, 2012
Files Show How LA Church Leaders Controlled Damage, By Gillian Flaccus, Huffington Post, January 21, 2013
Records Detail Cardinal's Failings in Abuse Scandal, By Wayne Drash, CNN, February 23, 2013
Personnel File of Rev. Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera, p. 39.
Cardinal Mahony "Unflappable" in Deposition on Priest Abuse Cases, Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2013
Cardinal Roger Mahony Gives Deposition in Lawsuit of Priest Who Allegedly Molested 26 Children, By Mariecar Mendoza, LA Daily News, February 24, 2013

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Aguilar-Rivera's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation 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 assignment record was last updated on March 8, 2013.