Santa Rosa Bishop Opts for Counseling
The case came about in April, when
Father Xavier Ochoa admitted to the bishop that he’d engaged in sexual
misconduct with a 12-year-old boy. Bishop Walsh immediately suspended Father
Ochoa. But clergy, like other professionals, are also required by law to report
cases of child abuse.
A day after Father Ochoa’s admission, Bishop Walsh asked the diocese’s attorney to make a report, but it was a weekend. The lawyer asked his secretary to file the report on Monday morning, and a series of reporting errors ensued, including delay on the part of Child Protective Services. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department “officially” received a child-abuse report Wednesday, after Father Ochoa fled to
Media reporting on the case suggested that Bishop Walsh willfully delayed filing the report long enough to allow the disgraced priest a chance to escape.
Participating in the counseling program will require the bishop to pay $350 and check in monthly with a case worker. He might be required to undergo therapy or participate in community service.
The bill was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Nov. 13. The next voting session in the Senate is Dec. 1.
“Six months is an insufficient period of time to conclude that a marriage should be dissolved,” said Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference. “The conference rejects the proposition that divorce is inevitable and therefore the Legislature should take action to permit two parties to begin to dissolve a marriage in a somewhat amicable fashion after a six-month period of differences.”
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