Brownsville priest arrested on child sexual abuse, trafficking charges, authorities say

February 13, 2024

By Steven Masso

Brownsville, Texas — A Brownsville priest was arrested on several trafficking and child sex-related charges, authorities announced.

Fernando Gonzalez Ortega, 52, was arrested on charges of sexual performance by a child, sexual assault of a child, continuous sexual abuse of a child, trafficking of a person and continuous trafficking of persons, a news release from the Brownsville Police Department stated.

Gonzalez Ortega was currently serving as a priest at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Brownsville, according to the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office.

In a statement, the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville announced it removed Gonzalez Ortega from active ministry, and prohibited him from “exercising any priestly ministry anywhere.”

At 11:40 p.m. Monday, police arrested Gonzalez Ortega at the 1900 block of Barnard Road for the active warrants.

Gonzalez Ortega was arraigned Tuesday at the Brownsville City Jail and his bond was set at $800,000.

As part of his bond conditions, he must install an ankle monitor before release, surrender his passport and not leave Cameron County while the cases are pending, the District Attorney’s Office stated.

In a statement, Bishop Daniel E. Flores said the individual who came forward, who is now an adult, spoke to the Diocesan Victim’s Assistance Coordinator and was advised to report the allegation to police.

“I am deeply saddened and ask you to join me as I pray for the individual who came forward and the family, and all the parties affected, including parishioners, and the clergy across our diocese who tend to their faithful with fidelity and compassion,” Flores said.

The investigation remains ongoing.

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