The Priest That Preyed

February 8, 2013 Comments Off on The Priest That Preyed

The Priest That Preyed

….The title story of the book, called “Assumption,” describes a fictionalized priest, Father González, who served a parish in a neighborhood not unlike the one I grew up in. The priest in the story is known for being “cool” and spending time with some of the more troubled boys at the nearby grammar school. The boys talk about how he has invited them to visit his room, drink wine, listen to Sly Stone and look at dirty magazines. These visits, of course, lead to the boys’ molesting. In the story, the priest gets caught and, in disgrace, hangs himself.

In real life, shame did not bring an end to the abuse. The priest I based the story on, the priest the sister recognized, was the Rev. Eleuterio Ramos. My parish knew him as Father Al, the hip young priest who spoke out for immigrant and Chicano rights, railed against the Vietnam War, could drink with the best of them and dedicated his spare time to mentoring the most troubled boys at St. Thomas….

The allegations against Father Al, who became a priest in 1966 and was transferred from parish to parish 15 times, first came out in the ’90s, when the Orange Diocese was sued by two men. They accused Father Al of plying them with alcohol when they were children, showing them adult films and sexually abusing them. But by that point, he had already been suspended from priestly duties. In 2003, he admitted to the police that he had molested at least 25 boys. But because of the statute of limitations, he was never charged, and he died in 2004, a year after my conversation with the nun.

According to church records that became public last month after years of litigation brought by victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests and brothers of religious orders, this story is sadly familiar. The documents include information on 124 priests over four decades, and demonstrate a pattern by the church of cover-up, denial and — I can’t help but think it — evil….

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