Assignment Record– Rev. Federico Fernandez Baeza, o.f.m.

Summary of Case: A man has said he reported in 1983 to San Antonio archbishop Flores that he saw Fernandez naked in a swimming pool with two young girls. He was charged with exposing himself in public, but charges were dropped. Fernandez was charged in 1988 with two counts of indecency with a child after two boys from the same family, ages 10 and 16, disclosed to their parents that Fernandez had molested them. Fernandez was sent to the Servants of the Paraclete in NM for treatment, and the family sued the San Antonio archdiocese and the Franciscans. The charges were dropped days after the family received a settlement, with prosecutors claiming a trial would be harmful to the boys. The judge in the case expressed concern that the settlement may have contained an improper agreement to drop criminal charges. Fernandez was allowed to go free. In March 2011 a man convicted in 1995 of rape and murder and on death row disclosed to a forensic psychiatrist that he had been sexually abused as a child in the 1980s by Fernandez. Publicity around this led to more people disclosing abuse by Fernandez as children. The convicted man was executed in July 2011. Through at least June 2013 Fernandez was still an active priest in Bogota Columbia. In 2015 he was working at Universidad de San Buenaventura in Cartagena, and posts regular "Sunday Reflections" on a Bogota church's website.

Ordained: 1977?

   

Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State/Country Position Notes

1977

Chicago archbishop was John Patrick Cody (1965-1982).

1981 St. Augustine's Chicago IL

2/4

Pastors were Revs. Conwan McCurren, O.F.M., (1977-1978) Lawrence Brummer, O.F.M.,(1978-1980) then James Keefner, O.F.M. (1980-1981) Other priests were Justus Nelles, O.F.M. (1977-1981); William Beyerink, O.F.M. (1977-1978), Lawrence Janezic, O.F.M. (1978-1981)

Parish had an elementary school with 644-362 students and a high school with 380-204 students.

1981

San Antonio archbishop was Patrick Fernandez Flores (1979-2004).

1983 St. Leonard's

San Antonio

A man claims to have told Flores in 1983 that he saw Fernandez naked in a swimming pool with two girls, ages 10 and 11. Flores later said he did not remember the man's complaint.

TX 2/2
Pastors were Revs. Gaspar Meyer, O.F.M. (1981-1982), and Michael Lange, O.F.M. (1982-1983).
Fernandez was charged with exposing himself in public, but the charges were dropped.
1981 1983 St. Bonaventure San Antonio TX Priest-in-charge was Rev. Richard Williams, O.F.M. This was a mission of St. Leonard's.
1983 1987 St. Clare's

San Antonio

Fernandez was accused of sexually abusing two brothers, ages 16 and 10, in July 1987. The boys' parents reported the abuse to Franciscan officials, who told them to "keep it quiet". The family filed a report with the TX Dept. of Human Services in Dec. 1987.

In 2011 more former St. Clare's parishioners came forward with allegations that they were sexually abused as children by Fernandez. One man stated that as a youth minister in the 1980s, children told him "alarming stories" about "unusual activities initiated by" Fernandez. The youth minister told church authorities, but nothing was done. The man's daughter had disclosed to him in 2010 that Fernandez also sexually abused her in the 1980s.

In March 2011 a 38-year-old man on death row in Texas, who was convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, disclosed to a forensic psychiatrist that he was sexually abused as a child by Fernandez. The man said he was 10 or 11 years-old at the time of the abuse, and a St. Clare's parishioner.

TX 1/1 The 1984-1987 Directories refer to Fernandez as "Frederico" rather than Federico. Fernandez is not indexed beyond the 1987 Directory.

1987

Provincial Superior of the Franciscan Friars was Rev. Robert Karris, o.f.m.

  Servants of the Paraclete Jemez Springs NM  

Fernandez was sent to this treatment facility for "troubled" priests.

Fernandez was indicted and pleaded innocent in March 1988 to charges he had fondled two boys in July 1987. Police said the boys were from a very poor and very religious family.

On 9/16/1988, the family received a settlement for reportedly more than $1 million from the Franciscans and the archdiocese, and the civil case records were immediately sealed. On 9/20/1988, prosecutors proposed a plea bargain which would have given Fernandez 10 years’ probation, arguing that a trial would cause the boys psychological damage. Judge Susan Reed rejected the plea bargain, saying that the priest should not receive special treatment and suggesting that the settlement may have included an inappropriate deal to settle the criminal case. The prosecutors then requested that the case be dismissed, which the judge allowed.

In January 1989, a Texas state rep. introduced a bill designed to prohibit crime victims who receive civil-suit settlements from refusing to testify in criminal trials. Referring to the Fernandez case, the legislator said, “State laws need to be changed so the guilty offender will not be able to buy off the victim and go free." The victims’ attorney said that the parents' interest in avoiding a trial was to spare the boys further trauma and was not connected to the settlement.

In June 1989, the Texas Supreme Court refused a request by the San Antonio Express-News to re-consider the sealing of the records in the civil case.

 

 

In 2011
Franciscan Provincial Minister was Rev. William Spencer, o.f.m.

 

Templo de San Francisco

 

Bogota, D.C. Colombia  

A 2011 Google search shows Fernandez to be at Templo de San Francisco in Bogota D.C.-Colombia.

One of Fernandez' alleged victims was convicted of rape and murder in 1995, and scheduled for a July 7, 2011 execution. The death row inmate was a St. Clare's parishioner as a child. With publicity around this man's disclosure in March 2011 to a forensic psychiatrist of abuse by Fernandez as a child and the man's scheduled execution, more people came forward with allegations of abuse as children by Fernandez.

The Franciscans joined clergy sexual abuse victims organizations, child protection advocates and others in calling for a stay of execution for the death row inmate, saying that the sexual abuse allegations against Fernandez "could have merit". The Franciscan provincial said the allegations against Fernandez would be investigated.

The convicted man who disclosed abuse as a child by Fernandez was executed in July 2011.

Through at least June 2013 Fernandez was still in ministry in Bogota Colombia at Templo de San Francisco.

2014   Universidad de San Buenaventura Cartagena Colombia secretary In 2014 he began work as a top administrator at Universidad de San Buenaventura in Cartagena, and posts regular "Sunday Reflections" on a Bogota church's website.


Sources
: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1978-1987)

Federico Fernandez, United Press International, February 19, 1988
Federico Fernandez, United Press International, March 16, 1988
Federico Fernandez, United Press International [New Mexico, Texas], March 17, 1988
Family Upset Plea Bargain Rejected, By Renee Haines, United Press International, September 21, 1988
Federico Fernandez, United Press International, January 13, 1989
Court Refuses to Open Records in Priest's Case, By Austin, United Press International, June 15, 1989
Archdiocese Settles Abuse Case, By J. Michael Parker, San Antonio Express-News [Texas], June 5, 1998
Punishing the Wayward, By J. Michael Parker, San Antonio Express-News [Texas], April 28, 2002
Dallas Morning News, June 12, 2002
Bilingual Reflections for Sunday, By Fr. Federico Fernandez, Templo De San Francisco, May, 2011
At the Nexus of Abuse and Execution, By Brandi Grissom, New York Times, June 9, 2011
Franciscans Request Execution Halt, By Michelle Mondo, San Antonio Express-News, June 11, 2011
Humberto Leal Garcia Executed in Texas Despite White House Appeal. State Governor Rick Perry Rejects Call from Barack Obama to Spare Mexican's Life to Protect US Interests Abroad, The Guardian, July 7 2011
Templo de San Francisco, Undécimo Domingo Tiempo Ordinario, Fray Federico Fernández Baeza, OFM, Junio 16, 2013
South America Has Become a Safe Haven for the Catholic Church’s Alleged Child Molesters, By Will Carless, Global Post, September 17, 2015

 



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 Fernandez' 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 September 22, 2015.

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