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Calif. Court Finds Priest Fathered Woman

August 5, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A state court found that a Roman Catholic priest fathered a 20-year-old woman whose mother claimed she was sexually abused by the clergyman.

Jacqueline Milla, 20, said her mother had always suspected that the man, Valentine Tugade, was the dad but never had proof until a court-ordered paternity test.

``He may have been called ‘father’ in church, but he was no father to me,″ Milla said at a news conference Monday outside Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral.

Tugade’s attorney, Peter Manning, did not return a phone call seeking comment on the ruling, which was issued Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Milla’s mother, Rita Milla, said the ruling backed up her longtime claim that she was sexually abused by Tugade and six other priests when she was a teenager in the 1980s in the Los Angeles area.

``Although my family and friends always believed me, this absolute proof should lay to rest any doubt that may have existed before in anyone’s mind that I had a baby from a Catholic priest,″ Rita Milla said at the news conference.

The Millas’ attorney, Gloria Allred, described the paternity test as ``99.99 percent″ accurate and said it would be used in a civil suit by Rita Milla against the archdiocese and several priests. The test cannot be used to sue Tugade for child support, she said.

Church spokeswoman Carolina Guevara said the church was offering Milla and her mother ``support and prayers.″

``We hope this information provides healing,″ Guevara said.

The case drew headlines last year when Jacqueline announced publicly that she believed her father was a priest and asked the church to help her identify him so she could ``know what he looks like.″

Her mother, who says she once planned to become a nun, has maintained that she was molested by the Rev. Santiago Tamayo at St. Philomena Church in Carson when she was 16. After she turned 18, she says, she had sexual intercourse with Tamayo and he introduced her to six other priests, with whom she also had sex.

In 1991, Tamayo admitted he had sex with her and publicly apologized. He died in 1999.

Last year, Allred released documents showing the church urged Tamayo to stay in the Philippines after Jacqueline’s birth and mailed checks to him there. In three letters, church officials advised him not to reveal the source of the payments ``unless requested under oath,″ noting that he was ``liable for personal suits arising out of your past actions.″


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