Sexual Abuse
(Photo : Unsplash/Mika Baumeister )

A priest from South Carolina who was a part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston has been charged with committing federal sex crimes. The charges stem from allegations that the priest sexually abused a child who was 11 years old at the time.

Father Jaime Gonzalez-Farias, also known as "Father Gonzalez," was apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service in Miami on November 29th, according to court documents.

An indictment recently made public reveals that Gonzalez-Farias, 68, has been charged with several crimes, including the aggravated sexual abuse of children, coercion of a minor, and the transportation of a little with the intentiton to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Details Emerge of Allegations Against Father Gonzalez

In an article in ABC News, Father Jaime Gonzalez-Farias is charged of taking an 11-year-old child to Florida between November 8th and November 12th, 2020, and engaging in inappropriate touching of the child's genitalia. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston became aware of the allegations of sexual misconduct involving Gonzalez-Farias in December 2020 after he had already returned to his home country of Chile.

The diocese notified his parishioners about the abuse allegations in January 2021. Father Gonzalez-Farias became a priest in September 1990 and began serving in several parishes and ministries in South Carolina in April 2015. According to the diocese, there were no previous warning signs or concerns in his record prior to his transfer to South Carolina.

In August 2021, Father Jaime Gonzalez-Farias was included on a list of "Visiting Priests with Credible Allegations of Child Sexual Misconduct or Abuse within the Diocese of Charleston," compiled by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, according to The State newspaper. At that time, and the diocese believed that Gonzalez-Farias had returned to Chile.

The list was created based on allegations of child sexual abuse or misconduct received by the diocese, as well as a review of priests' personnel files. In an article in Yahoo! News, Gonzalez-Farias is being brought back to South Carolina to face the federal charges against him. It is not clear from court records whether he has retained an attorney in the state to represent him in this case.

Also Read: Pope Francis Condemns Psychological Abuse in Jesuit Order

Other Cases of Sexual Abuse of Priests

A report released by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) has revealed a pattern of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Kansas and the church's history of protecting its clergy. According to NPR, the report released by the state attorney general's office found that dioceses frequently failed to follow church policies regarding allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

The KBI's investigation, which began in late 2018, looked back 50 years and included a review of more than 40,000 pages of records, 224 tips, 137 victim interviews, and the launch of 125 criminal cases. However, no new criminal charges have resulted from the investigation due to the age of the cases and expired statute limitations.

The KBI identified 188 clergies suspected of committing sodomy, rape, and child rape. The church in Kansas has made improvements since 1998 to discourage the practice of protecting priests who faced allegations of abuse. According to the report, there has been a decline in substantiated abuse in recent years.

In a recent article in Christianity Daily, Pope Francis called for "zero-tolerance" when it comes to sexual abuse by priests and has amended the Catholic Church's criminal code to increase penalties for offenders. The revised code places offenses and punishments under "Offenses against human life, dignity and liberty," and specifies the stripping of an offender's office instead of just a suspension. It also holds priests accountable for grooming or inducing minors to view pornography. These measures aim to reduce the number of cases left to the courts to decide. Pope Francis has been actively addressing sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church since his ascension in 2013.

Related Article: Pope Francis Says the Catholic Church is Continuing the Fight Against Clerical Child Abuse