PRIEST PLACED ON LEAVE
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.