OREGON: Archdiocese Of Portland Offers Defense Loan To Child-Molesting Priest
My San Antonio reports:
The Archdiocese of Portland has offered an open-ended loan to the Rev. Angel Armando Perez to cover legal fees as he fights an accusation that he fondled a 12-year-old boy.
As first reported by the Oregonian, Archbishop John G. Vlazny approved the loan to Perez this week, Archdiocese of Portland spokesman Bud Bunce said Friday. Police said Perez chased a 12-year-old boy down a Woodburn street early Monday while dressed only in his underwear.
“It’s available if he needs it,” Bunce said of the loan.
Bunce said he didn’t have details on the loan or how it would work. Parishioners in Woodburn have also begun to raise money for Perez’s defense, he said.
The Salem boy told investigators he ran from Perez’s church-owned house, with Perez chasing after him. The boy said a nearby bystander gave him a ride to the boy’s sister’s house early Monday.
The 46-year-old parish priest at St. Luke Catholic Church made an initial appearance Tuesday in Marion County Circuit Court on accusations of sexual abuse, abuse of a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor and driving under the influence.
Police said the boy told them the priest gave him a beer and he drank about half of it and Perez also fondled him. Court documents filed after Perez’s arrest say the boy awoke to flashes and thinks the priest was taking cellphone photos of him.
Detectives wrote in their affidavit that the priest, a native of Mexico who has permanent legal residency in the U.S., told them he drank too much at a community event and doesn’t remember what happened after he and the boy watched a movie.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the church will cover the cost of defense for priests “in the overwhelming majority of cases,” but it’s usually not called a loan.
“I don’t think they’ve ever called it a loan and, frankly, we think that’s pretty disingenuous,” Clohessy said. “On a priest’s salary, there’s virtually no chance that it’ll ever be repaid, especially if he’s found guilty.”
The Archdiocese of Portland was the first in the nation to declare bankruptcy in 2004, just hours before two civil trials on sex abuse allegations were set to begin. The diocese emerged from bankruptcy in 2007 with a $50 million settlement of more than 175 claims. Another $20 million was set aside to handle future claims.
The offer to cover Perez’s defense costs was likely a strategic move, Clohessy said.
“We suspect the goal here is to intimidate others who were hurt by Father Perez or other clerics into staying silent or settling quietly,” Clohessy said. “The signal he’s sending is, ‘Don’t think this is going to be easy.’”
Perez has hired prominent Portland attorney Marc Blackman, who has handled a number of high-profile cases.
Blackman did not immediately return a call on Friday morning. He declined to comment to the Oregonian.