Credible sex abuse claims levied against 3 former Winters priests, 1 deacon, diocese says

Three former Winters priests and one church deacon had credible claims of sex abuse levied against them, church officials said.
Three former Winters priests and one former deacon were among 46 clergy members named by the Diocese of Sacramento on Tuesday as having credible claims of sexual abuse levied against them by individuals under the age of 25. Clockwise from top-left: Father Jose Antonio Pinal, Father Gerardo Beltran-Rico, Deacon Alejanro Arroyo and Father Andrew Coffey. Photos: Diocese of Sacramento/Handout
Three former Winters priests and one former deacon were among 46 clergy members named by the Diocese of Sacramento on Tuesday as having credible claims of sexual abuse levied against them by individuals under the age of 25. Clockwise from top-left: Father Jose Antonio Pinal, Father Gerardo Beltran-Rico, Deacon Alejanro Arroyo and Monsignor Andrew Coffey. Photos: Diocese of Sacramento/Handout

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a vast area of Northern California from the San Francisco Bay to the California-Oregon border. The list made public on Tuesday was originally supposed to be released last year, but the release was delayed after the diocese hired an independent consultant to comb through hundreds of personnel files, KCRA-TV reported. Church officials published a letter last Sunday saying the list would be released this week. In a video statement released with the list, Bishop Jaime Soto said the men accused of sexual misconduct “betrayed” parishioners by allegedly committing “shameful, sinful crimes against innocent children and young people.” “Every week it seems there are new revelations about the depth and horror of the scourge of sexual abuse by priests and bishops,” Bishop Soto said. “These truths are sickening, heart-wrenching and depressing.” The bishop apologized to those who came forward with what he said were credible claims of sexual abuses, saying the church had prioritized “clericalism” over the wounds of the victims. “We failed to protect you as children, and we failed to tell you the truth as adults,” Bishop Soto said. The names released on Tuesday included three former priests and one deacon from Winters-area churches:

  • Father Gerardo Beltran-Rico, who served at St. Anthony’s Church in 1991. The allegations against Rico stemmed from his time at two churches in Sacramento and may have included victims from the Winters area. In all, church officials said 15 children under the age of 14 made credible claims of sexual abuse against Beltran-Rico. Many of those claims were reported to church officials after Beltran-Rico allegedly fled to Mexico in order to escape an arrest warrant issued by local police, the church said. A separate federal arrest warrant was issued in 2005, according to information released by the FBI.
  • Monsignor Andrew Coffey, whose sole allegation stemmed from his time as a priest at St. James Church in Davis. Before his assignment in Davis, Coffey served as the priest of St. Anthony’s Church from 1955 to 1963. Church officials said Coffey retired in 1994 and died in 2010.
  • Father Jose Antonio Pinal, the former priest of St. Anthony’s Church in Winters from 1986 to 1989. Church officials said five credible allegations of sexual abuse were levied against Pinal, including two from children under the age of 14; Pinal admitted abusing three of the five victims, according to the Diocese of Sacramento. Pinal reportedly fled to Mexico after the abuse allegations came to light, church officials said.
  • Deacon Alejandro Arroyo, who was ordained a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Sacramento. Arroyo served as the deacon of St. Anthony’s Church from 1991 to 2012. According to information released by the diocese on Tuesday, two credible claims of sexual abuse were reported during Arroyo’s time at another parish. One of the claims was reported to local church officials in 2009 but was not forwarded to the Diocese of Sacramento at that time, officials said. The diocese said Arroyo died in 2017.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXOy_snOEYY Three of the 46 men identified by the diocese on Tuesday were responsible for more than half of the sexual abuse allegations. Beltran-Rico of St. Anthony’s Church in Winters was one of those three priests. For years, bishops in Sacramento urged Mexican church officials to return Beltran-Rico to California so he could face legal proceedings, the Sacramento Bee reported. Those requests were ignored, the Bee said. The list also included priests who served in Woodland and Davis. One former Davis priest, Hector Coria, was accused of fondling a child under the age of 18 in 2014 during his time at St. James Church. Coria pleaded guilty to unlawful intercourse with a minor and was sentenced to serve 90 days in jail. His conviction was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in 2017, the Davis Enterprise reported. In a statement released on Tuesday, the Diocese of Sacramento said it worked with legal professionals led by a former executive assistant director of the FBI to review “the personnel records for every bishop, priest and deacon…who has served in the Diocese of Sacramento over a span of seven decades.” The records included information on over 1,500 priests and other clergy members, the diocese said. More than 130 individuals under the age of 25 were said to have credible claims of sexual abuse against Sacramento-area priests and other clergy members, according to the diocese. Church officials said the list included some adult victims based on the suspicion they were “groomed” by clergy members before the victims reached the legal age of consent. No priests or other church officials “known to the diocese to have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor” remains in active ministry, the diocese said. Those who have not yet come forward with claims are asked to contact local law enforcement first, and then call the Diocese of Sacramento at 866-777-9133. Sexual abuse survivors can find help and other resources by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline 24 hours a day at 800-656-4673.
This article has been updated with additional information about the accused clergy members along with background information about the Diocese of Sacramento.  Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the church where Beltran-Rico served as priest in 1991. It was St. Anthony’s Church, not St. Mary’s Church.]]>

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