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Attorney of former McAllen pastor denies client's sexual misconduct allegations

Attorney of former McAllen pastor denies client's sexual misconduct allegations
3 months 1 week 6 days ago Wednesday, April 10 2024 Apr 10, 2024 April 10, 2024 10:39 PM April 10, 2024 in News - Local

For Jessica Gaytan-Ramirez, the Our Lady of Sorrows Parish was a sacred place for prayer.

“When you go in you expect to have a certain level of respect,” Gaytan-Ramirez said. “You expect to walk in and be safe."

Now, Gaytan-Ramirez said her sense of security is gone after she found out about the allegations against former Monsignor Gustavo Barrera.

Last week, Barrera was identified by the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville as a pastor accused of sexual misconduct with a minor in an incident that allegedly happened 35 years ago.

“Honestly, it’s kinda like a stab in the back,” Gaytan-Ramirez said. “You go there, and you bring your children, and your first reaction is ‘OK, I need to keep my children away from there."

According to the Diocese, Barrera was removed from his duties after they received a report against him that accused him of sexual misconduct with a child.

PREVIOUS STORY: Police report filed against former McAllen pastor, Catholic Diocese of Brownsville says

Barrera submitted his letter of resignation and retirement from the parish on March 23.

The Our Lady of Sorrows Parish website previously said Barrera had served as a pastor there since 2007.

Channel 5 News tried talking to church parishioners, but was stopped by church members.

Through his attorney, Barrera denied the allegations. 

“He remembers throughout his career that he never abused anybody, he has a firm recollection of that,” Barrera’s attorney — Ed Stapleton — said.

Barrera isn't facing any criminal charges, and Stapleton said he shouldn’t.

Stapleton says the allegation surrounds an event that happened in 1989. Under the statute of limitations, victims have 10 years after their 18th birthday to come forward.

Stapleton says time has run out in this case.

According to the statement from the Diocese, the victim refused to file a police report against Barrera. Under their procedures, the victim’s assistance coordinator for the Diocese was required to file the police report. 

Channel 5 news reached out to the Diocese to find out where the police report was filed at, but the Diocese has declined to answer.

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