Baker Diocese Named in New Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Pendleton, OR — A man in his mid-30s brought a lawsuit today in Federal District Court alleging sexual abuse by a Capuchin priest who had been accused of child abuse before being transferred to Hermiston, Oregon, and claiming an effort by church officials to silence the family, allowing the then-admitted pedophile cleric to escape the country to avoid criminal prosecution.

The complaint alleges that the victim was abused by Capuchin Franciscan priest Fr. Luis Jaramillo, who was born and ordained in Colombia, South America. The abuse took place from 1988 to 1989 at Our Lady of Angels Parish in Hermiston, Oregon, located in the Diocese of Baker. At the time, the victim was between the ages of nine and ten. Before the Capuchins transferred him to Oregon, Fr. Jaramillo had been accused of abusing boys in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

According to personnel files obtained from the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Capuchin Franciscan Order, Capuchin officials sent the priest to remote Hermiston in 1987. Consistent with the Diocese of Baker’s practice at the time, Jaramillo, then known to be an accused child molester, was accepted by the Diocese of Baker to work at Our Lady of Angels Parish. Within a few weeks or months of his arrival, the lawsuit says, Jaramillo began abusing the victim and threatened to kill him if he resisted.

The boy eventually told his mother, who reported the abuse to Capuchin officials in 1989. The complaint states that a Capuchin supervisor immediately interviewed Father Jaramillo, who admitted to the abuse. Despite the priest’s admission, the provincial—or “chief executive” of the Capuchin order—allegedly told the boy’s mother that if she attempted to have Father Jaramillo prosecuted, it would be her son’s word against the priest, and she would cause her family and son to be shamed and scorned. The complaint states that he also told her that she would have to “answer to her Maker” for any souls lost to God if she reported the abuse.

After the victim’s mother reported the abuse, Fr. Jaramillo was immediately sent to a church-run treatment facility for child molesting priests in New Mexico. Members of Hermiston community were not notified of the allegations or risk. Later in 1989, the lawsuit says, Fr. Jaramillo was sent to Mexico because he was not responding to treatment. Since then, lawyers for the victim believe that he has been transferred to Argentina and Mexico.

Details provided by the law offices of Anthony M. DeMarco and Roggendorf Law LLC.