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Negros priest accused of sexual abuse, placed on leave

Negros priest accused of sexual abuse, placed on leave

By Roy Lagarde

February 28, 2019

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic priest has been placed on leave after being accused of sexually abusing a minor in Negros Occidental province.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos said they were “saddened and shocked” by the allegation but vowed cooperation in any investigation.

He said the accused, whom the diocese did not identify, was temporarily replaced as parish priest to give way for an impartial probe.

“We are committed to search for truth and to make sure that the process will be fair and just to both parties and whoever is responsible will have to face the consequences,” Alminaza said in a statement.

On the other hand, the bishop said the diocese will take its own canonical process which involves providing pastoral care to the alleged victim and her family.

“While we acknowledge the right of the accused to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, we are steadfast to assist the victim and cooperate in the process so the truth will come out and justice is served,” Alminaza said.

“We are proceeding with our own canonical process as dictated by Church laws by providing pastoral care to the accused while allowing the legal process to take its course,” he added.

The charges against the priest stemmed from a complaint filed by the alleged victim’s mother who works as a secretary of the parish.

The alleged victim, a four-year-old girl, was negative of laceration or abnormal discharges, based on her medical results.

The case erupted amid increased scrutiny of the Church’s handling of abuse allegations.

Last week, nearly 200 Catholic leaders from across the world gathered in Vatican for a landmark summit on combatting sexual abuse within the church.

Pope Francis told the church leaders that they must find “concrete” solutions to end the crisis.

Read the Bishop Alminaza’s full statement below: