Saturday, May 1, 2010

Priest pleads not guilty to new charges, requests jury trial

Priest pleads not guilty to new charges, requests jury trial

St. Charles Republican
Posted Apr 30, 2010 @ 11:07 AM
St. Charles, IL — A Catholic priest pleaded not guilty on Friday morning to 16 counts of sexually abusing a child.

Alejandro Flores, 37, of the 600 block of Brook Forest Avenue of Shorewood is charged with 16 felonies, including predatory sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual abuse, indecent solicitation of a child and attempted aggravated sexual abuse, in relation to the alleged sexual abuse of his currently 13 year old Godson. The heaviest charge carries up to 30 years in jail.

Flores’ defense attorney Glenn Sowa also requested a jury trial for Flores.

Sowa and Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Debra Bree said they are still awaiting additional discovery in the case, including a search warrant for Flores. Sowa said is common in cases that complicated such as this one for new discovery to “trickle in.” Sowa said there are still currently a few things missing that he needs to see for the case.

Sowa did not comment on the new charges, saying he has not had enough of a chance to look at it yet, but said it isn’t uncommon for the state to bring forth more charges as they look deeper into evidence.

“They sit back and look at all the evidence at their leisure,” Sowa said. “There’s usually an increase in charges.”

The Kane County State's Attorney's Office said between Jan. 1, 2005, and Jan. 1, 2010, Flores had sexual contact with a St. Charles minor between the ages of 8 to 13. They allege that during the same period, Flores tried to have sexual contact with the victim's older brother, who was also a minor.

The priest, a native of Bolivia, was first was changed Jan. 15 and surrendered to authorities Jan. 20. Tuesday's indictment was based on information received as the investigation continued.

Flores is being held on $1 million bail. If he posts bond, he must surrender his passport, is not allowed to have contact with the victim or victim's family and cannot have contact with anyone under 17. Sowa said bail for Flores is at a “stand still.”

Members of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, appeared at Friday’s hearing and said they plan on coming to court for all of Flores’ hearings.

“I shed tears fro the boys (who have been) molested or raped (by priests),” said Kate Bochte, a Geneva resident. Bochte said she’s grateful the two brothers Flores is accused of abusing stepped forward in this case. She said if they hadn’t, the abuse could have continued on with many other children for years.

Mary Lu O’Halloran, a Geneva resident, said she became interested in fighting against priests abusing children after former St. Peter Catholic Church priest Mark Campobello was charged with having a sexual relationship with two teenage girls, one in Geneva and one in Aurora.

“We’re here for the children,” O’Halloran said, saying that she is still a Catholic and not against the Catholic church. “I will fight for (the children) until the death.”

Therese Albrecht, a Chicago resident, said she was raped by a priest at her church in Chicago at the age of 7.

Albrecht, who recently met with Francis Cardinal George from the Archdiocese of Chicago, showed a picture of her at age 8, noting that by that point she had been being raped and sodomized for a year. She said the priest who abused her is still free because the statute of limitations ran out on charging him, and she makes sure she knows where he is and everyone else knows as well.

“I will follow him,” Albrecht said, continuing by saying the brothers who came forward with allegations in the case were brave. “Most of us can’t (speak up).”

Flores will next appear in court on May 28 in courtroom 305 in front of Kane County Associate Judge T. Jordan Gallagher.

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