Image by: Catholic News Agency

A priest in Tennessee who was already facing many counts of sexual assault has been served with two more battery charges this month, according to the information provided by the legal system.

In accordance with a press release issued by the Franklin, Tennessee Police Department, a grand jury handed down a superseding indictment against Father Juan Carlos Garcia-Mendoza earlier this month. The indictment charged him with two additional charges of sexual battery.

A total of eight more accusations were brought against Garcia in February, including ongoing abuse of a child, aggravated sexual battery, four counts of sexual battery by an authority person, and two acts of sexual battery. Garcia was indicted on all of these allegations.

According to the state police, the priest is currently being held in jail in Williamson County, Tennessee, on a bond of two million dollars. In the past, he had been employed at the St. Philip Catholic Church, which is located in the town of Franklin. According to a news release issued by the Diocese of Nashville in January, the Diocese was made aware of the allegations against Garcia for the first time in November 2023, when “a teen in the parish had made a report of improper touching” involving the priest.

A report was submitted by the diocese to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, and the diocese also worked with a retired FBI agent to supervise the investigation into the allegations that were made against the diocese.

CNA was informed on Friday by a spokeswoman for the diocese that Garcia had been removed from active ministry in November, following the initial report that was made regarding the priest.

Earlier reports had stated that the diocese had postponed the removal of the priest from active ministry for a number of weeks; however, the spokesman disputed those accusations on multiple occasions.

The spokesman for the diocese told CNA that the Holy See has been kept informed during the entirety of this affair, and that the canonical procedure is currently underway in a separate hearing from the criminal proceedings.

Until the time of his indictment, Garcia had been ordained in the year 2020 and had served at a number of parishes within the Nashville Diocese.

Source: catholicnewsagency.com

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