South Carolina Priest Charged With Sexual Abuse
Priests, clergymen, and other church leaders are typically seen as trusted authority figures in communities. Children and other members of the congregation look up to these adults, so when they engage in abusive behavior, it can be shocking.
Late last year, a South Carolina priest was charged with federal sex crimes after sexually abusing an 11-year-old child. The priest, known as Father Gonzalez, served in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston. He will return to South Carolina to face federal charges.
The sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred in November 2020, during which time, Father Gonzalez is accused of transporting an 11-year-old child to Florida, where he allegedly touched the victim’s genitalia.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston became aware of the sexual abuse in December 2020, when the priest left the United States for his home in Chile. The diocese notified his parishioners about the allegation in January 2021.
Father Gonzalez was ordained as a priest in September 1990. In April 2015, he was transferred to South Carolina as a visiting priest. While in South Carolina, Father Gonzalez served in various ministries and parishes. The diocese has reported that it reviewed his record and it did not raise any red flags, as diocesan officials received a clear background check on him.
The diocese further noted that Father Gonzalez completed the diocese’s Safe Environment training and was rescreened in July 2020 in accordance with diocese policy. According to the diocese, there were no signs of criminal activity.
However, in August 2021, Father Gonzalez was included on the diocese’s list of “Visiting Priests with Credible Allegations of Child Sexual Misconduct or Abuse within the Diocese of Charleston.” The list was based on a review of priest personnel files as well as allegations received by the diocese.
Sexual abuse can affect anyone of any age or background. The perpetrator can be a stranger, although in many cases, it is a relative, close friend, teacher, coach, priest, or someone else the victim knows and trusts. If you have been abused, it’s important to seek legal help right away to prevent it from occurring again and to assist you in obtaining the care and support you need.
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Sexual abuse is something that nobody should have to live with. Even when it stops, the trauma lasts forever. People of all ages can be seriously impacted by this abuse.
Seek legal help from a Columbia sexual abuse and trauma victim lawyer at Simmons Law Firm. We’ll file civil claims and lawsuits to ensure that victims and their families receive the medical care and mental health treatment they need as well as the financial support they deserve. To schedule a free consultation with our office, fill out the online form or call (803) 779-4600.