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Puerto Rican seeks privacy in church abuse case

February 18, 2014

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A man who accused one of the six priests expelled from a Puerto Rican diocese in a sex abuse scandal requested Tuesday that his name and other details not be revealed to prosecutors pursuing a criminal investigation.

The request came just days after the Diocese of Arecibo filed a lawsuit against the U.S. territory’s justice secretary saying it should not be forced to release additional information to authorities. Prosecutors complained earlier that diocese officials gave them scant information concerning the expelled priests who were accused of sodomy, lewd acts and sexual harassment.

Manuel Martinez, a lawyer for an unidentified 23-year-old man, said in a court document filed Tuesday that his client does not want the government to get involved and is satisfied with how the church responded to his accusations.

Martinez said in a phone interview that the priest was expelled one month after his client complained to church officials three years ago.

“This matter has been resolved for him,” Martinez said. “He has a different life now. He has no interest in his information being divulged.”

Martinez said his client accused the priest of abusing him up to three times between the ages of 12 and 15. He said the man did not seek financial compensation and the diocese didn’t offer any. The man, however, did accept the diocese’s offer to see a psychologist, Martinez said.

Miguel Pereira, spokesman for the island’s justice department, said officials will take into account the man’s request for privacy as they formulate a reply to the diocese’s lawsuit.

A judge is expected to review the lawsuit in a hearing Friday.

Prosecutors say several people have accused the priests of abuse, but it is unclear if any of them support the criminal investigation. None has been publicly identified.

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