Vincent Mercer • George Spencer • Greg Sweeney
Settled: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles for $9.99 million to resolve four sex-abuse cases, including that of former priest Michael Stephen Baker, who was convicted of molestation in 2007, reports NBC Los Angeles, which notes that in 1986 Baker met with Cardinal Roger Mahony — who was “particularly hounded by the case” in the days leading up to his resignation — “and confessed to molesting two brothers for nearly seven years. … Mahony sent Baker for psychological treatment but eventually put him back in ministry, where he molested again.
“Baker returned to ministry the next year with a doctor’s recommendation that he be defrocked immediately if he spent any time with minors. Despite several documented instances of being alone with boys, the priest wasn’t removed from ministry until 2000. Around the same time, the church learned he was conducting baptisms without permission. In 2007, Baker was sentenced to 10 years and four months in prison. He was paroled in 2011 and is alleged to have molested 20 children in his 26-year career.”
Story: NBC 4, January 20, 2006; San Gabriel Tribune, November 18, 2007; City of Angels, July 7, 2009; AP, September 19, 2009; Whittier Daily News, September 25, 2011; AP, October 5, 2011; NBC Los Angeles, January 22, 2013; NBC Los Angeles, March 12, 2013. See also: Assignment Record, Bishop Accountability
Banned: Angela Calcagno, 25, former preschool teacher, Centerpointe Christian Preschool (which
KGO reports: “The incident happened months ago but only recently came to light when Calcagno” showed a cell-phone photo she took of the girl in her bound state “to other staff members, including the child’s mother” — who is also a teacher at Centerpointe — “at a social gathering.”
NBC Bay Area reports that on Tuesday, “the preschool and church released a three-page statement detailing past violations citing four prior Class-A violations,” including the Calcagno case, as well as a teacher leaving “diluted bleach spray within reach of children”; “bleach and detergent … left on the floor in the laundry room”; and “improper supervision … when a 17- year-old was left in a supervisory role over children.” Story: Pleasanton Patch, March 11, 2013; KGO, March 12, 2013; NBC Bay Area, March 12, 2013; San Jose Mercury News, March 12, 2013; SFGate.com, March 12, 2013
Calcagno’s now-deleted bio page on the school website stated: “My name is Angela Calcagno. I have been working at Centerpointe Christian Preschool since June 2008 and absolutely love it! I am currently attending school at Cal State East Bay in Hayward where I am finishing up my B.A. in Psychology and then ultimately my M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy. I grew up in the Bay Area and went to Valley Christian for elementary, junior and high school. I spend my free time hanging out with friends and family, babysitting and spoiling my cat, Skeeter. I feel truly blessed to get to be a part of so many amazing children’s lives on a daily basis and be part of such a wonderful preschool.”
Arrested: Julio Cesar Guarin-Sosa, 43, Roman Catholic priest from Colombia who has been assisting at St. Anne’s Parish, Lodi, California; on multiple charges, including one count each of annoying/molesting a victim under the age of 18, false imprisonment and illegal entry, and two counts of sexual battery, according to a Sutter County inmate record. KXTV reports that while sheriff’s investigators claim Guarin-Sosa French-kissed a a 16-year-old-girl, the priest only “admits he kissed her near her mouth,” and “never tried to do nothing sexual with her.”
The station notes: “The allegations stem from an incident at a private home in Yuba City on Saturday where the priest had been called to perform a private mass. Guarin-Sosa said he was asked by the family to speak to one of children privately. He and the girl went into a bedroom where they sat on a bed and held hands in prayer, he said. After talking for about 15 minutes, Guarin-Sosa claimed they stood up, he hugged her and kissed her on the side of her cheek near her mouth.”
Guarin-Sosa is currently in custody in lieu of $250,000 bail. The Diocese of Stockton — which reportedly failed to perform a background check on the priest (“Instead,” reports KCRA, “it relied on a letter of recommendation from a bishop in Colombia”) — issued a statement: “As a result of the charges, Father Guarin’s permission to exercise ministry in the Diocese of Stockton has been revoked. His diocese in Colombia has been informed.” Story: Appeal-Democrat, March 12, 2013; KXTV, March 12, 2013; KCRA, March 12, 2013
New details: Eusebio Martinez, Roman Catholic priest, Holy Family Catholic Parish, Edinburg, Texas, who was charged last week with misdemeanor criminal mischief after a family captured images of a man appearing to be Martinez drilling holes in the tires of their car. ValleyCentral.com reports that a newly-released probable cause statement says Martinez “was stalking Martin Villanueva by sending him text messages telling him where he was at and even installed a GPS tracking system under his wife’s car without their consent.”
As for the suspected reason, Casey Michel of Hair Balls (Houston Press) sums it up: “It all pointed to a friend-cum-vagrant, a priest, Eusebio Martinez, who believed that he and Villanueva should maintain more than a simple pastor-parishioner relationship. … Villanueva won’t detail the conversation the two had in early 2010, but, according to Valley Central, Martinez wanted something more than a platonic relationship the two had developed. According to Villanueva, Martinez insisted on saying ‘”I love you” and wanting me to kiss him when we said “hello” or “goodbye.” I stopped talking to him … I don’t feel like I’m a man no more. I don’t want to be friends no more.’ And so, Villanueva went off in search of a new church. And as he was sampling McAllen’s different options, someone kept turning his tires to Swiss cheese.”
Meanwhile, reports the Brownsville Herald, Martinez is now a “person of interest” in “five cases of arson that targeted the homes that [Villanueva] was building as part of their family business, Villanueva Construction.” Story: Conservative Babylon, March 7, 2013; ValleyCentral.com, March 7, 2013; Brownsville Herald, March 8, 2013; Hair Balls, March 11, 2013; ValleyCentral.com, March 12, 2013
Sentenced again: Vincent Mercer, 66, Roman Catholic priest (Dominican Order), Black Abbey, Kilkenny, Ireland; former headmaster, Newbridge College, County Kildare; and already twice-convicted pedophile; to just 18 months in jail (three years, minus 18 months suspended) after pleading guilty to 15 (out of an original 39) counts of sexual assault on a teenage boy, committed between 1986 and 1994.
In 2003, Mercer pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault on a 13-year-old boy at Newbridge during the 1970s, and was sentenced to a mere six months; in 2005, he was convicted of 13 counts of indecent assault committed against eight young boys, also during the 1970s, and received nothing more than a suspended sentence of three years. The Provincialate Dominican Order admitted it knew of abuse allegations against Mercer in 1995, but did not notify the Gardai (the Irish police) “until 2003, when further victims came forward,” reported TCM.ie in 2005. Story: TCM.ie, March 1, 2005; Kilkenny People, November 21, 2012; Irish Times, February 23, 2013
Charged: George Spencer , 48, associate pastor, now-shuttered Greater Works CME Church, Kansas City, Missouri, with three counts of first-degree child molestation, two counts of sexual misconduct involving a child, one count of first-degree statutory sodomy and one count of forcible sodomy, according to the Kansas City Star. Spencer, who was captured in New Orleans, “allegedly groped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl in February 2012. … In a later interview with child forensic investigators, the girl repeated the story and said that Spencer had told her that he had ‘nasty … dreams about her’ and that he could ‘get in a lot of trouble for this.’” The Star also found that Spencer was sentenced to prison twice in the 1990s, for aggravated sexual battery and taking aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Story: Kansas City Star, March 12, 2013
Charged: Gregory Sweeney, 56, youth minister (until his arrest), Christ the King Catholic Church, South Bend, Indiana; “facilitator and co-developer for Notre Dame’s STEP program online course ‘Youth Ministry 101′”; previously, coordinator, youth and at-risk ministries, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, South Bend, and youth ministry coordinator, Ss. Simon & Jude Cathedral , Phoenix, Arizona; with performing sexual conduct in front of a minor, a felony.
The South Bend Tribune reports: “Prosecutors say he has masturbated in front of a teen for several years. … The teen told police of often seeing Sweeney naked and watching pornography on his laptop, according to charging documents. … Detectives interviewed Sweeney, who they say told them he has been addicted to pornography for the past 20 years, charging documents say.” Sweeney — who is believed to be married and the father of a teenage son (who participated in Sweeney’s youth group) — is scheduled for his first court hearing March 26, 2013.
A statement from pastor Neil Wack issued March 11th reads in part: “Our youth minister was arrested this past week by the South Bend Police. When I learned of his arrest, he was immediately placed on unpaid administrative leave from Christ the King Parish. As of today, his employment here has been terminated. Like all of you, I am shocked and saddened to learn about this. … However, you do need to know this: I am not aware nor have I been told from any person about information that would indicate anyone has claimed to have suffered any harm as the result of anything parish related.”
While all traces of Sweeney’s existence have been wiped from the church website, many crumbs remain, including this unfortunately-worded item from August, 2012 (cache): “Next Sunday is our annual Picnic Mass. … Greg Sweeney has been working with a great group of people to make the picnic better than ever. He assures me that there will indeed be both corn and sausage aplenty.” Story: South Bend Tribune, March 12, 2013
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