Priest accused of molestation wants to leave state for treatment

The Chronicle, Illionois/March 12, 2010

St. Charles - A priest accused of molesting a St. Charles boy wants to be let out of jail to go to a treatment center in Maryland as he awaits trial.

Alejandro Flores, 37, is charged with multiple counts of predatory criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault. Prosecutors say he molested a St. Charles boy that he knew, who is now 13, on numerous occasions during a five year period - from the time the boy was 8-years-old.

Flores, who was most recently a priest at Holy Family Parish in Shorewood, has been in jail on $1 million bail since his Jan. 20 arrest. Allegations of abuse surfaced about two weeks before Flores' arrest, prompting him to attempt suicide, according to Joliet Diocese officials.

In a motion filed last week to reduce Flores' bail, defense attorney Glenn Sowa states his client's bail is "unreasonable and egregious," and that the diocese has arranged to send Flores to a treatment facility in Maryland.

That motion was supposed to be discussed in court Wednesday before Associate Judge Jordan Gallagher, but was postponed because Gallagher was absent.

Instead, a March 17 hearing was scheduled to discuss the matter.

"If the defendant is released from custody, the Catholic Diocese of Joliet has arranged for inpatient treatment for the defendant at St. Luke's (Institute) in (Silver Spring), Maryland," the motion states. "The defendant has agreed to undergo the treatment at the request of the Catholic Diocese of Joliet."

Sowa has not specified what bond amount Flores would be able to post, and the motion only refers to a "reasonable amount that the defendant can post."

Assistant State's Attorney Deb Bree said she will object to Sowa's request - to reduced bail and to the notion of Flores leaving the state.

"The safest place for him would be the Kane County jail," Bree said.

The motion also states Flores has no assets, but owns a car and would be able to attend court. Sowa has said that a group of parishioners are paying for Flores' defense.

The Rev. William Dewan, head pastor at Holy Family Parish, attended Wednesday's court hearing, but declined to comment. Instead, he deferred comment to diocese spokesman Doug Delaney. A parishioner also attended court with Dewan, but declined to comment.

"It's the diocese's position that Father Flores needs some psychological help. He tried to kill himself," Delaney said. "It would be in his best interest to get him help."

He added that Flores would benefit from "evaluations" offered at the Maryland facility.

Delaney said the diocese previously has sent priests to St. Luke's Institute, which offers treatment to clergy for various addictions, including sexual addictions.

If Judge Gallagher agrees to allow Flores to leave the state for treatment, there would first be a 30-day "grace period" in between treatment in Maryland and being released from jail on bond, Delaney said.

During that time, the diocese would not allow Flores to live at the rectory where he was before his arrest, nor provide housing or financial assistance, Delaney said.

"He would be on his own," he said.

Flores essentially has been on a "leave of absence" since his arrest, Delaney said. As part of that, he may not wear his collar or represent himself as a priest.

Calls to the treatment facility in Maryland weren't returned Wednesday.

Delaney said the diocese also is offering treatment to Flores' "alleged victims."

"It's part of an attempt to help anyone involved in this," he said.

Flores - a native of Bolivia - first came to the United States in 2004 to continue his seminary studies, according to Sowa's motion. He completed his studies at Sacred Heart Seminary in Milwaukee, Wis., and was ordained as a Catholic priest in June 2009, court records state.

Days after the allegations of abuse surfaced, Flores attempted suicide by jumping off a choir balcony inside a vacant Joliet church, according to diocese officials. He was hospitalized for about two weeks and arrested upon his release.

During his hospitalization, Flores told a fellow priest that he awoke after drinking tequila at the boy's home, to find himself and the boy engaged in sexual acts, according to prosecutors.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.