Man's $20 million lawsuit accuses priest of abuse

Houston Chronicle/February 23, 2004
By Evan Moore

A $20 million lawsuit has been brought against the Oblate Fathers and Father Alfredo Prado, the fugitive Oblate who fled his order and joined a doomsday cult in Costa Rica.

Ricardo Salinas, a former San Antonio resident who said Prado sexually molested him in 1967, filed the suit in state court in California.

Salinas, 50, a former parishioner of Prado's at St. Timothy's Catholic Church in San Antonio, said the attack occurred when he was 14 and had approached Prado for counseling about problems with his father.

"He got me drunk and raped me," Salinas said. "When I tried to tell my mother, she wouldn't believe me."

Salinas' complaint was never reported. Prado, 73, was later stripped of his priestly authority by the Oblates over undisclosed actions and ordered into a church psychiatric treatment facility.

He fled the order last year and appeared in Costa Rica, where he has become the chief priest for the Reina y Senora de Todo lo Creado, a cult whose name translates loosely to "The Queen and Lady of All Creation."

The group, often referred to as "the virgin cult," is led by Juan Pablo Delgado, a self-styled visionary who claims to receive messages from the Virgin Mary. The cult reportedly is violent and has been accused of brainwashing adolescent boys who join it.

Justin Schwartz, an Oakland, Calif., attorney who represents Salinas, said he filed the suit in late December under a California law that lifted the statute of limitations on civil suits over child molestation.

Schwartz said the Oblates were served notice of the suit Friday. Prado, who remains in Costa Rica, has not been served.

"It was a matter of squeezing in the door," said Schwartz, who explained that the law lifting the statute of limitations had a sunset clause and expired at the end of December.

The suit alleges that the Oblates either knew or should have known Prado was a pedophile and failed to protect Salinas and others from him.

Calls to Prado and to attorneys for the Oblates were not returned.

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