A Douglas priest has admitted to sexually abusing a teenage boy. 53-year old Fr. Julian Sanz pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a minor. The plea was finalized Friday morning in Bisbee Superior Court. Sanz was a pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Douglas. The diocese suspended him in October.
KGUN 9 News talked with a victim of the priest. We concealed his identity to protect his privacy. The man, now 32-years old, says Fr. Sanz molested him in 1982 when he was only 11 years old, working as an altar boy at Sacred Heart Church in Douglas.
Victim: I was around the age of 11. He walked up to us and asked us if we wanted to be altar boys at his church.
At the time, Father Julian was working at Sacred Heart Church in Douglas. He was a new priest, well respected in the community.
Victim: All this happened during confession after we got to know him a little bit more and got confident with him. He would ask us to do confession in his office. After about the third time, he would start putting his hands on my shoulders and my chest.
The victim says the sexual abuse continued to escalate, but he couldn’t talk about it. Douglas Police arrested Fr. Sanz in February on charges of child molestation in two unrelated cases.
On March 18th, after several hearings, the priest pled guilty to two counts of sexual abuse with a minor; a class five felony which could carry a maximum prison time of five years. But two other counts of child molestation involving this victim were dropped. He hopes other potential victims will build a stronger case against Sanz. If there’s anybody out there that would step up and have the courage to talk about it, if it happened to them, maybe he could get a bigger sentence more time.
As he waits for the priest’s sentencing, the victim still struggles with a secret he kept for more than twenty years. I never told anybody because who would believe me against a powerful person like that?
The victim says he is somewhat satisfied that Sanz pled guilty to the two counts of sexual abuse, but he is frustrated that the child molestation charges were dropped. Because the victim did not report the incidents right away, there was a lack of evidence. Three other counts of attempted child molestation involving a 15-year old boy were dismissed, but prosecutors can refile those charges at a later time.
A sentencing date for Fr. Julian Sanz has not been set.