Puerto Rico priest faces federal sex charges

Puerto Rico priest faces federal sex charges

5/14/14 By DANICA COTO of Associated Press

From the Link: http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/puerto-rico-priest-faces-federal-sex-charges-1

Pedophile Catholic priest Israel Berrios is escorted by agents from the FBI, R, and Homeland Security, L, after they arrested him in Guaynabo, May 13, 2014

Pedophile Catholic priest Israel Berrios is escorted by agents from the FBI, R, and Homeland Security, L, after they arrested him in Guaynabo, May 13, 2014

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.S. authorities in Puerto Rico on Tuesday arrested a Roman Catholic priest and former school director on charges including sexual trafficking of children in the first federal case of its kind in the U.S. territory.

Israel Berrios, 58, is accused of sexually abusing an altar boy from the time he was about 8 years old until he turned 17, according to Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda.

“All this began with the seduction of material things,” Miranda said, who alleged the boy was given money, a computer, a camera and was taken on a cruise. He said the boy is now a 21-year-old university student.

The arrest is part of a widespread probe into multiple church abuse allegations in the island of 3.6 million people, where more than 70 percent identify themselves as Catholic.

U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said the boy’s mother had given him permission to take a four-day cruise to the Bahamas in July 2008 with Berrios and a married couple they knew from church.

The boy was raised by his mother and did not have a relationship with his father, which led to the priest becoming like a member of the family, said Angel Melendez, a Puerto Rico-based special agent for Homeland Security Investigations of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

“He is the only victim we have interviewed, but we don’t dismiss that there might be others,” Melendez said.

Berrios also had served as director of a Catholic school in the central town of Aibonito that the boy attended.

ICE spokesman Ivan Ortiz said Berrios was a priest in the Diocese of Caguas, south of the capital of San Juan. He said the priest was arrested in the northern town of Naranjito.

Puerto Rico prosecutors filed charges of lewd acts against Berrios, who has been suspended as a priest but not expelled.

Officials at the Diocese of Caguas said the bishop was not immediately available for comment, but Berrios himself told reporters he was at peace in a brief statement as he entered a courthouse.

“Although my hands and feet are handcuffed, there are other people who are imprisoned by their conscience,” he said without elaborating.

Berrios is the first priest to face federal sex charges of this kind in Puerto Rico, though local prosecutors are investigating at least 17 other priests and eight dioceses facing similar allegations.

Prosecutors have already charged one of six defrocked priests from the Diocese of Arecibo with committing lewd acts. Edwin Antonio Mercado Viera is scheduled to appear in court in late May.

The Diocese of Arecibo is fighting a request from Puerto Rico’s justice department to obtain confidential documents related to the sex abuse probe, and the island’s Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case. Officials of the diocese argue they have already provided sufficient information and seek to protect the identity of those who made the allegations.





About victimsofrapebythercc

The Catechism offers a clear moral teaching: "Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them." (no. 2356) Note that rape is "an intrinsically evil act," meaning that it is evil at its very root, nothing justifies it, and it is objectively a mortal sin. An evil act was done against me, a crime, by a priest at St Thomas More Parish in Durham, NH. An evil and a crime I will no longer keep silent about. Those who perpetrate crimes against children, especially those of the Roman Catholic Church, should all be punished for their crimes against children. Anything less would be criminal.

Posted on August 19, 2014, in Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Diocese of Caguas, Father Edwin Antonio Mercado Viera, Father Israel Berrios, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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