Canonical investigation launched into allegations against priest - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Canonical investigation launched into allegations against priest

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 More information has been discovered regarding allegations against Father Luis Camacho have surfaced, as a report alleging the priest had sexual contact with a minor was filed with the Archdiocese of Agana and Child Protective Services.

News that a priest may have had sexual relations with a teenage girl has members of Guam's Catholic community in shock and asking for prayer.  It was last week KUAM News first brought you the story about the arrest of Father Luis Camacho, who was the pastor for the San Dimas and San Dionisio Churches.  The priest was arrested on allegations of custodial interference.  Police found Fr. Luis and a 17-year-old girl in a parked car at Agat Beach. The girl was supposed to be in school.

It wasn't until a report was filed with Child Protective Services and Archbishop Anthony Apuron that it became apparent there was more to the story. The person that filed the report was Deacon Stephen Martinez, who said he was obligated to filed the report by the archdiocese's policy on sexual misconduct and Guam law. Deacon Martinez said he was provided information about the incident by someone familiar with what happened. "So because I believed that what they had to say was likely correct information, I had to report it, and then it is up to the investigator to go through the process and determine what the true facts are on the situation," he explained.

Deacon Martinez alleges in his report that Fr. Luis illegally transported the 17-year-old girl from her school without her parent's permission. He went on to state that Fr. Luis had the minor hide as they drove away from the school. "He then drove minor child to subway and then to a remote beach in Agat and had sexual contact with her".

In response to the report Archdiocese of Agana sexual abuse response coordinator Deacon Larry Claros told KUAM News that, "A canonical investigation is underway and I have done my part as the SARC in coordinating the investigation. It now lies with the Attorney General's Office." But Deacon Martinez, who once served as a SARC, says that whether an allegation carries criminal or civil charges is irrelevant from the church's standpoint because the church's policy dictates that when an allegation is made of sexual misconduct to the archdiocese a report must be made to the archbishop.

"The SARC doesn't do anything until the archbishop directs them to move forward so the SARC basically is responsible for coordinating the archdiocese response to the allegation the SARC is not an investigator," he said.

He says Deacon Claros is not responsible for investigating the allegation but rather an independent professional investigator, saying, "Generally it would not be a member of the archdiocese simply because I am not aware of anybody priest or deacon or employee of the archdiocese who is qualified to do an investigation."

KUAM News also sent questions to the chancellor of the archdiocese Father Adrian Cristobal to find out who is conducting the canonical investigation but no response was available as of news time.

So what is a canonical investigation? According to Deacon Martinez it is an investigation to determine if canon law has been violated. If found that there is a violation Archbishop Apuron ultimately decides the fate of Father Luis. "So Father Luis is still a priest, his faculties have been suspend which means he cannot carry out the duties of a priest he cannot celebrate mass he cannot give the sacraments he cannot continue in ministries if all faculties have been removed," he stated.

And while the investigation is underway parishioners like Ron Delisi hopes the archbishop will address the matter, saying, "The church has been in a lot of scrutiny nationwide regarding all those allegations especially so I really hope that the church is aggressively pursuing this I mean we are all human but it is a different level when you are talking about religion and these people who join the seminary they take the oath so it is another black eye."

The allegations against Father Luis have visibly shaken an already-torn Catholic community, filling parishioners throughout the island with mixed emotions. One thing they do agree upon however is that prayer is need to restore faith. 
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