Priest abused girl twice – probers Featured

Priest abused girl twice – probers

Photo:The girl said Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos “used” her twice in June and that she was paid P3,000 on their first encounter, said Senior Superintendent Roger Quezada, Marikina City police chief. Rizal-PIO, File


MANILA, Philippines - The 13-year-old girl who was rescued from a priest who wanted to bring her to a motel told police he had allegedly abused her twice before, an official said yesterday.

The girl said Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos “used” her twice in June and that she was paid P3,000 on their first encounter, said Senior Superintendent Roger Quezada, Marikina City police chief.

The same 16-year-old pimp, who was arrested along with Lagarejos, had set up the “meetings,” he added.

He left it to the city prosecutor’s office to file additional charges against Lagarejos following the girl’s allegations. The priest was charged with human trafficking on Saturday.

“We will pursue the case against the priest. We will not lower our guard on this,” said Quezada.

Lagarejos was arrested last Friday in an operation that was set up after the girl's mother reported to the Women and Children's Protection Desk.

Quezada clarified that Lagarejos’ arrest was not the product of a sting as the girl had no prior knowledge of the police operation.

The girl’s pimp reportedly received P500 from Lagarejos for the girl’s services.

Airtight case

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro declared yesterday that they have an airtight case against Lagarejos.

“There would be no whitewash in the investigation of the case and there is no pressure from anybody, including the Catholic Church,” Teodoro said in a text message to reporters.

Quezada briefed the mayor on the case yesterday.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, Lagarejos was being held at the Marikina police’s detention facility while the girl and her alleged pimp are in the custody of the local social welfare office.

Wake-up call

Meanwhile, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who is in charge of investigating Lagarejos’ case, said yesterday that he is not discounting the possibility that President Duterte would cite the case in his tirades against the Catholic Church.

“He should do that to wake us up to make us a little straight in our actuations,” Cruz said.

He said he feels bad that some priests “violate their faith and morals but also their commitment to continence. This is not the first time that I have come across a case of this kind.”

However, Cruz said the action of one priest does not represent the whole church.

Cruz, a canon law expert and a veteran in investigating cases against priests, said he met with Antipolo Bishop Francisco de Leon last Sunday and was tapped to be the instructor delegate in the pedophilia case against Lagarejos.

He said he would ask both the girl and Lagarejos if they are willing to be interviewed or give him their statements.

Cruz said the investigation might take a year to process, depending on how fast he could acquire all the information he needs. The results of the investigation would be forwarded to the Congregation of the Faith at the Vatican. – With Evelyn Macairan

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