Wednesday, April 2, 2008

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Diocese regrets hiring suspect in child porn case

Last updated April 1, 2008 9:27 p.m. PT


YAKIMA -- The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Yakima said Tuesday he regrets hiring a retreat director known to be under investigation of child pornography charges in Oregon, saying it "wasn't a good hire."

Juan Jose Gonzalez, 37, of Cowiche is being held with bail set at $80,000 at the Yakima County Jail on a fugitive warrant issued in Marion County, Ore. He faces four charges of encouraging child sex abuse, a felony, according to Yakima County Superior Court records.

Bishop Carlos Sevilla said he hired Gonzalez in 2003 to work part time at the St. Peter Retreat Center in Cowiche because he viewed the incident as an "isolated episode," and because the job involved administrative work and teaching religious education to adults only, not children. Gonzalez was hired as full-time retreat director later that summer.

"It was a serious error in judgment on my part to employ Mr. Gonzalez while he was under investigation," Sevilla said in a statement. "I have always been and continue to be deeply committed to keeping the church a safe place. I should not have hired the employee, regret my serious failure in good judgment in doing so, and take full responsibility for my actions."

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