THE priest who allegedly molested a 16-year-old girl has been closely monitored by the Archdiocese of Cebu since June this year.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocesan spokesperson, told Sun.Star Cebu that since June this year, they have been observing the priest after they received complaints from his parishioners in Aloguinsan, Cebu, including the present incident.
Sun.Star Cebu withholds the name of the priest pending his comment.
Tan said that Msgr. Rey Penagunda, the vicar general assigned to investigate the case, is closely monitoring the priest.
The priest has denied the allegations, based on Penagunda’s initial investigation, Tan said.
Tan said they are also seeking the cooperation of the 16-year-old girl’s parents to urge the victim to provide a testimony on what happened.
While the priest denied abusing the 16-year-old girl, Tan said the priest still needs to undergo the necessary process to prove his innocence.
Tan said the priest will undergo a canonical process of investigation, in which the results will be submitted before the Holy See in Rome.
The second process will come once the parents of the girl will file a complaint before the local court.
Tan said that while they will continue with the canonical investigation, the Archdiocese will still cooperate with the legal proceedings if the court will summon them.
The priest could be temporarily suspended from his parish duties if Penagunda recommends it, Tan added.
But the temporary suspension will only be imposed if the priest’s presence in the parish is causing discomfort to his parishioners.
The Archdiocese of Cebu has been investigating the priest after the 16-year-old girl filed a complaint before the police last month.
The priest, one of the team ministers of the St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Aloguinsan, allegedly invited the victim to his car to get some fruits.
Inside the car, the priest allegedly committed sexual advances on her.