The arrest of the Rev. Angel Armando Perez, pastor of St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn, is the first real-time accusation against a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland in many years and, perhaps because of the Catholic clergy sex scandal, the complaint about him went first to the police, not the archdiocese.
Perez, 46, was arrested Monday afternoon after a complaint alleging inappropriate contact between the priest and a 12-year-old boy. Perez faces arraignment today in Marion County Circuit Court on accusations of sexual abuse, use of a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct and furnishing alcohol to a minor.
When police arrived to take Perez in for questioning, a member of the parish staff called the Archdiocese of Portland, according to Bud Bunce, a church spokesman. Perez immediately was placed on administrative leave as required by the archdiocese's child protection policy. He is not allowed to say Mass or perform any priestly duties, Bunce said. The archdiocese will complete its own investigation once the legal process is complete, he said.
Since 2002, the same year in which Perez was ordained a priest, the archdiocese has worked to implement the U.S. Catholic bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The archdiocese requires all employees and volunteers – including priests – to submit to criminal background checks, complete safe environment training and agree to a code of conduct for ministry with children and young people.
In 2010, an archdiocese report said the number of complaints against its priests has declined "from several years ago," but did not offer specific numbers because some cases have been ongoing for years. In 2004, the archdiocese became the first in the United States to file for bankruptcy protection from priest sex-abuse lawsuits.