Priest Jailed After Molest Report
A Roman Catholic priest in Santa Ana was arrested Monday after a 15-year-old girl accused him of sexually assaulting her over the weekend.
Father Gerardo Jarencio Tanilong, 71, an assistant to the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe-Delhi church, was booked on suspicion of child molestation at Orange County Jail, where bail was set at $50,000.
A man answering the phone at the church referred all calls to the Diocese of Orange, which released a statement Monday expressing “deep concern” for the alleged victim and her family.
“We remain intent on fully cooperating with ... law enforcement and the district attorney’s office in this investigation,” Auxiliary Bishop Jaime Soto said in the statement.
On Sunday, church officials told authorities that the girl had reported to them that she was molested in Anaheim on Saturday night, Anaheim Police Lt. Joe Vargas said.
Tanilong came in for an interview Monday and was arrested, Vargas said.
Police would not release more details in the case.
According to the statement from the diocese, “This is the first allegation of its type known to have been brought” against Tanilong since his arrival in Orange County in 1986. Before that, the priest had worked at a parish in the Philippines, although a church spokeswoman didn’t know where.
Diocesan officials said they also reported the incident to county Child Protective Services and to their own Sexual Misconduct Oversight and Review Board.
The diocesan statement said that pulpit and church bulletin announcements about the allegation would be made during Saturday vigils and Sunday Masses this weekend in all Orange County parishes where Tanilong has served: Our Lady of Lourdes in Santa Ana, St. Joachim in Costa Mesa, St. Boniface in Anaheim and St. Callistus in Garden Grove.
Tanilong has been at Our Lady of Guadalupe-Delhi since 1999. He is the fourth Orange County priest to be accused of sexual misconduct in the last year.
“Should Father Tanilong be found to have engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor,” the church’s statement said, “the diocese will follow its policy of removal from ministry.”