16 Catholic priests in Utah accused of sex abuse since 1990, bishop says


SALT LAKE CITY — The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City has received “credible allegations of sexual abuse” against 16 priests since 1990, Bishop Oscar Solis said in an open letter this week to Utah Catholics.

Those allegations include complaints submitted against two priests this year.

Bishop Solis’ letter, published in the diocese’s newspaper, Intermountain Catholic, said such allegations have also been submitted against one seminarian and one brother in that time period.

The sexual abuse grievances filed with the diocese since 1990 “involved approximately 34 victims.” Two of the accused priests were the subjects of complaints submitted this year, Bishop Solis said in the message.

“Both have been reported to the authorities; investigation is ongoing and both are under temporary suspension from priestly ministry,” he wrote.

In his letter, he decried “the horrible sins of some priests against minors and the failure of some bishops in their responsibility to nourish and protect the little ones.”

“In the Diocese of Salt Lake City, we take our sacred responsibility of protecting our children very seriously. We are saddened by and ashamed of the sexual abuse scandal in our church,” Bishop Solis said. “Some of our priests and bishops have committed harm and injustice to so many. On behalf of all my brother priests, and myself, I beg your forgiveness for their sins and failings.”

In August, the diocese announced it had placed Rev. David R. Gaeta, a pastor in American Fork, on administrative leave while it investigates accusations of sexual misconduct against children between 1980 and 1984 when Gaeta oversaw a parish in Ogden.

Jean Hill, government liaison for the diocese, said at the time that the accusations involved two people who allegedly were inappropriately touched during that time, when they were boys. Hill did not know the age of those boys at the time of the alleged incidents.

Rev. Gaeta has denied the allegations, Hill said in August. She said at the time that the diocese had contacted the Division of Child and Family Services, and that police were investigating, but few other details were provided.

Rev. Gaeta was ordained for the diocese in 1980 and served in Ogden from 1980 to 1984 and left Utah in 1985, according to Hill. He returned to the state when he assumed leadership of the St. Peter Parish in American Fork in 2017.

The other priest to be accused this year of sexual misconduct is Rev. Jorge Martinez-Gomez, pastor of the Saint Francis of Assisi parish in Orem.

An announcement to the congregation there in mid-July, shared Friday with the Deseret News, says the Salt Lake diocese received an accusation against Rev. Martinez-Gomez on July 3 stemming from alleged misconduct “involving an adult male” in December 2016.

He was placed on administrative leave the same day the allegation was received, the announcement said, pending the outcome of the diocese investigation.

“This matter has been reported to law enforcement, and we will cooperate with law enforcement in its investigation,” the announcement said, adding that “the diocese is unaware of any other allegations” against the priest.

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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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