Former priest suspected by SNAP leaves CSS - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Former priest suspected by SNAP leaves CSS

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - It was in the Survivor Network for those Abused by Priests' third letter to Archbishop Anthony Apuron that questioned the status of Father Raymond Cepeda and whether he had been defrocked.  Several within the church community could not say why he had left the Catholic Church as a priest. But a tip to the newsroom revealed he was employed at Catholic Social Services...that is, until recently.  

According to CSS Executive Director Cerila Rapads Cepeda, he worked for less than one month there as a social worker with disabled adults.  She says he was the most qualified applicant for the job, noting, "Essentially CSS is very trustworthy," she said.  "We think people who come to apply to us for work are usually interested in helping people."

KUAM News was told Catholic Social Services requires background checks and police clearance on employees and that Cepeda's record was clean.  Rapadas says she knew he had been a priest, but did not know why he left the clergy.  "If something comes up from their previous history that we did not know when the person was hired then they will be released," she said.

However, Rapadas says Cepeda left on his own accord. He failed to show up for work last week and has not returned.

Deputy Director Leo Casilo tells us this is considered job abandonment and Cepeda was effectively terminated.  For Casilo, the recent news on Cepeda's alleged defrocking comes as a surprise, as he said, "If we hear something like that we never even knew about that but once we hear something like that, of course, we are concerned because of the type of clients we are servicing."

He says Cepeda did work one on one with clients.  Rapadas says if Cepeda were to return, he would only be considered for an administrative position.

The Archdiocese is not responding directly to the allegations made by SNAP, claiming they may have a hidden agenda. The church, however, has opened its doors to possible victims.  Those wishing to express their concerns directly to the Archdiocese can call Deacon Jeff Barcinas at 472-6116, extension 205, or Deacon Steve Martinez at extension 208. In a press release the Archdiocese says it has had an effective safety plan in place to protect all children served since April 23, 2002.

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