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Priests Deny Revived Allegations

Apr 24, 2002 | The Miami Herald A priest denied allegations filed in a lawsuit Tuesday that accuses him and another local cleric of sexually abusing a now-deceased altar boy during the mid-1970s.

''It's totally false,'' the Rev. Alvaro Guichard, 62, told The Herald. ``I'm innocent.''

The negligence suit claims Guichard and the Rev. Ricardo Castellanos molested Miguel Chinchilla Jr. between the ages of 14 and 16 at Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables and elsewhere.

Both priests said Chinchilla signed a church-issued affidavit in 1988 clearing them of wrongdoing. Chinchilla died of AIDS five years later. He was 31.

''Mr. Chinchilla recanted in a written statement,'' said Castellanos, 56, pastor of San Isidro Church in Pompano Beach.

Said Guichard, pastor of St. Francis de Sales Church in Miami Beach: ``Miguel signed the affidavit recanting the allegations against me. I saw it.''

QUARTER CENTURY

Both priests said the Chinchilla family is trying to revive unsubstantiated allegations made 25 years ago.

The priests and the archdiocese declined a Herald request for a copy of the affidavit.

Chinchilla's mother, Rita, said the priests' denials come as ``no surprise.''

''They have no shame,'' said Rita Chinchilla, who filed the suit along with her husband, Miguel Sr., on behalf of the son's estate.

The family said during a press conference at the office of their lawyer, Jeffrey Herman, that the family is going public now because ``we have received a lot of strength from other victims coming forward.''

The family said both priests molested Miguel Chinchilla between 1975 and 1977, first at Little Flower Church. They also said that during that period, Castellanos molested Chinchilla on overnight trips.

FAMILY'S ACCOUNT

The family said they first raised the abuse allegations against Castellanos in 1977 with the archdiocese, claiming they were pressured by a senior church official to keep silent ``under penalty of sin.''

Rita Chinchilla said her son first told her about the allegations against Guichard in 1979, but she didn't tell the archdiocese until 1987.

The following year, Miguel Chinchilla signed the church-issued affidavit recanting the accusations, the archdiocese said.

The allegations against Castellanos were first published in 1993 in a book titled A Gospel of Shame. Guichard is not mentioned in the book.

''It's total lies,'' Guichard said.

Guichard also said a Miami psychologist who counseled Chinchilla in the late 1980s instigated the abuse allegations.

AFFIDAVIT CITED

''In the affidavit, Miguel Chinchilla stated that Simon Miranda invented these lies,'' Guichard said.

Miranda, the psychologist, disputed that.

''All I can say about Guichard's remarks is that they're preposterous. [Miguel] talked with me about the abuse by both priests two or three times,'' said Miranda, who said he expects to be called as a witness by their lawyer.

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