A Catholic priest who served in Modesto and throughout Stanislaus County nearly two decades ago is under criminal investigation, suspected of sexual misconduct with a child.
The alleged incident in 1999 involved a 15-year-old girl who was a member of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, according to Heather Graves, spokesperson for the Modesto Police Department.
Father Eduardo De Jesus Perez Torrez is the focus of the police investigation and a review by the Diocesan Review Board, the Diocese of Stockton wrote in a statement released late Thursday afternoon.
Eduardo Perez, as he's been referred to throughout his time in the San Joaquin Valley, also served at churches in Ceres, Oakdale, Riverbank and Stockton.
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Graves said Friday detectives were alerted to the 1999 incident by the Stockton diocese in 2008 when the girl initially came forward. After an investigation by police, there was "not enough information that a crime occurred," Graves said.
However, in late January, the diocese received additional information from a person representing the victim, and reported it to Modesto police, who reopened the case.
The diocese believes Perez is serving for the Diocese of Palmira in Colombia. He last served in the San Joaquin Valley at St. Gertrude's in Stockton in 2014. That was the last contact he had with the diocese, according to Joseph Dondero, communications coordinator.
On Friday, St. Stanislaus referred all questions regarding the case to the Diocese of Stockton.
Perez served at St. Jude's in Ceres from April 14, 1999 to December of that year. From there, he went to:
- St. Stanislaus in Modesto from December 1999 to April 2004.
- St. Mary's of the Annunciation in Oakdale from April 2004 to December 2004.
- St. Mary's in Stockton from March 2007 to August 2008.
- St. Frances of Rome in Riverbank from August 2008 to January 2010.
- St. Gertrude's in Stockton from January 2010 to June 2014.
Nobody at the other Stanislaus County churches would comment or were available to comment on Friday.
Perez's picture appeared with a story in The Bee in December 2001 at a pre-dawn service at St. Stanislaus celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day.
"Without the Virgin of Guadalupe, for us Mexicans, Mexico would not exist," he told The Bee.
He also was pictured in The Bee serving a Spanish Easter Mass at St. Stanislaus in 2002.
Before leaving St. Mary's of Stockton for Riverbank in 2008, parishioners at St. Mary's were upset about the departure of the Spanish-speaking Perez, according to a story in The Record of Stockton.
The Diocese of Stockton, which has been cooperating with law enforcement, requests that anyone with information regarding this matter or any sexual abuse of a minor call Connie Jacob, the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, at 209-466-0636.