The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY YE­SE­NIA AMARO ya­[email protected]­

A Reed­ley priest ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct by at least four peo­ple is put on leave by the Dio­cese of Fresno.

A Reed­ley priest who ear­lier this week was ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct was placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave by the Dio­cese of Fresno, the dio­cese con­firmed Fri­day.

The al­le­ga­tions against Mon­signor John Esquivel were lodged on Mon­day by Sylvia Gomez Ray, 52, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Bak­ers­field. Ray al­leges she was vic­tim­ized by Esquivel in the mid-1980s.

Ray is one of at least four al­leged vic­tims but is the only one who has spo­ken out in pub­lic.

Ray al­leged she was 17 or 18 when she was vic­tim­ized by Esquivel while work­ing as a church sec­re­tary at St. Joseph’s in Bak­ers­field. She said she re­ported it to mul­ti­ple peo­ple at the time, but no one be­lieved her.

“I buried what hap­pened but I never for­got,” she said Mon­day, read­ing from a pre­pared state­ment. ”When another of Mon­signor’s vic­tims con­tacted me with her own story, we de­cided it was time to come for­ward.”

Teresa Dominguez, chan­cel­lor with the Dio­cese of Fresno, said Esquivel was placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave on Thurs­day. Dominguez pre­vi­ously in­di­cated the Dioce­san Re­view Board was go­ing to meet on Mon­day af­ter­noon, and the is­sue in­volv­ing Esquivel had been placed on the agenda.

“It has now been ver­i­fied that two in­di­vid­u­als have re­ported to Bak­ers­field Po­lice De­part­ment,” Dominguez said in a state­ment re­leased Fri­day. “Pend­ing the out­come of law en­force­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­lowed by a dioce­san in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Msgr. Esquivel is on paid ad­min­is­tra­tive leave ef­fec­tive June 20, 2019.”

Esquivel is now the eighth priest in the Dio­cese of Fresno to be placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave pend­ing on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions.

Esquivel has served at St. An­thony of Padua Catholic Church in Reed­ley since 2007.

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