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Priest In Abuse Case Has Court Date Today

Aug 27, 2002 | ARIZONA DAILY STAR

The Rev. Juan Guillen, a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Tucson, will make his second appearance in court today on charges that he molested two boys in Yuma.

Guillen, 58, is facing three charges of sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of child molestation, alleged to have occurred between 1989 and 1996. He is being held in the Yuma County Jail in lieu of $72,000 bond.

Yuma Police Detective Jennifer Munns said Monday that the victims were two boys who were abused over an extended period of time.

Yuma County Justice Court records say Guillen allegedly molested one boy three to five days a week over several years. The molestations began when the boy was 9 or 10 years old and the priest fondled him in the church chapel, records say. A second boy was molested, the records say, over a period of 1 1/2 years, including an episode when Guillen allegedly took the boy to a trailer. The records say the priest asked the boy to take off his clothes, then asked the boy to massage him.

Guillen, a priest in the Yuma area for the past 20 years, worked most recently as an associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Church. He ministered primarily to the Spanish-speaking community at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel a few blocks away from the main church.

Guillen was arrested Friday by the Yuma Police Department, which learned of the abuse allegations from the Catholic Diocese of Tucson four days earlier.

Guillen is the second priest from the Diocese of Tucson to be arrested for child molestation. The first occurred in January 2001 when Monsignor Robert C. Trupia was arrested on seven counts of child molestation on allegations that he abused a young boy named Donnie Frei at St. Francis of Assisi Church, which is also in Yuma, in the early 1970s.

The charges against Trupia were dropped because they violated the old criminal statute of limitations.

Trupia later went on to become a priest in Tucson and lived and worked at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church, 1800 S. Kolb Road.

Yuma is part of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which stretches across nine counties and includes some 350,000 Catholics. Diocese spokesman Fred Allison said Coadjutor Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas is planning to visit with the congregation at Immaculate Conception this week.

"I think the real purpose of him being there is to help with the healing and help with the struggle that a lot of people are having, especially the staff,'' Allison said. "Several staff members saw him being led away in handcuffs, and this has a devastating effect on employees who have known and worked with him for 20 years.''

Allison said Guillen, a native of Mexico, was arrested Friday afternoon as he was preparing to move out of the church rectory. Guillen had been placed on administrative leave last Tuesday.

The diocese placed Guillen on leave after getting a report on Aug. 19 about the allegations of child molestation. Allison said Guillen traveled to Tucson on Wednesday and met with Kicanas and returned to Yuma on Friday.


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