Negros priest faces rap for molesting girl
BACOLOD CITY — A Catholic priest was removed from his parish in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental province, after police filed charges against him for allegedly molesting a 4-year-old girl.
But San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, who has jurisdiction over the priest, assured that the church would not intervene in the investigation to ferret out the truth.
“While we allow the legal process to take its course, the church will proceed with its own canonical process which involves providing pastoral care to the alleged victim and accused and whoever is involved in the investigation,” he added.
Both Alminaza and the police declined to identify the priest, as well as the parish where he was assigned.
The complaint was filed against the priest on Wednesday in the Cadiz City prosecutor’s office for violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act).
The police filed the complaint after the girl’s parents reported the alleged molestation on Saturday.
Chief Insp. Robert Mansueto, acting Cadiz police chief, said the priest allegedly kissed the girl and touched her genitals on several occasions.
In a separate interview, Alminaza said the priest told him about the charges and assured him that he was innocent.
“He himself was shocked to be accused of such an action and was willing to face the [charges] to prove his innocence,” Alminaza said
“We acknowledge his right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise and we are committed to assist and cooperate in the process so the truth will come out and justice is served,” he added.
Alminaza said church officials had reached out to the family of the victim and offered help so the girl would be given proper care.
“We are committed to search for truth and to make sure the process will be fair and just to both parties and whoever is responsible will have to face the consequences,” he said.
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