“Well loved” Filipino priest charged with rape, sexual abuse in Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA — Another Catholic clergy abuse scandal has hit home for even more Filipinos, as a Filipino priest has been accused of rape and recording sex acts.

Fr. Armand Garcia was arrested and posted bail on March 5.

It was at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Roxbery, Pennsylvania in 2014, when the alleged relationship began.

According to parishioners, Fr. Armand was “well loved.”

According to reports from local Philadelphia news organizations, who cite sources familiar with the investigation, Fr. Garcia had a relationship with an altar girl who was then 16 years old. He allegedly offered her alcohol and marijuana during their encounters over a period of a year in the parish rectory, his living quarters, and other locations.

Some Filipinos ABS-CBN News spoke to expressed their shock with happened.

But according to the advocacy group SNAP, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, just looking at the history of the case and how the archdiocese has reacted, it raises red flags.

“There is a lot of discrepancy. One, why the diocese allowed him to stay in ministry, when they knew an active investigation had started,” said Mark McDonnel.

McDonnel adds that a closer look at the record of Fr. Garcia already shows a trend that is far too common for abusive priests.

“I’m very skeptical of this priest’s record. There’s a pattern there, you can see that immediately with his assignment record.  Most priests will be assigned to a parish as a assistant, Pastor, if you will, parochial assistant or a parochial Vicar. Those assignments generally, especially with Garcia, being a young, newly ordained priest will last at least 4 years. each assignment because they want to see that priest get experience within the parish family. He didn’t have that. He started off Rocky, and then ended up with a year absence.”

Fr. Garcia graduated from the Ateneo de Manila in the Philippines before moving to the U.S. and becoming a priest.

He was once the regional representative of the National Association of Filipino Priests. The org has yet to comment on the case of Fr. Garcia.

It’s been more than a year since fr. Armand was suspended by the archdiocese. On March 28, he will finally have his day in court here in Philadelphia. There is no indication yet what plea he will enter.

The communities he has served here though, are just hoping that truth, justice and healing will prevail.

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