December 3-9, 2006 Issue
Posted 11/29/06 at 8:00 AM
Santa Rosa Bishop Opts forCounseling
SANTA ROSA,Calif. â€” Bishop DanielWalsh ofSanta Rosaagreed to enter a counseling program in lieu of misdemeanor charges for failingto report a case of sexual abuse by a priest, the Associate Press reported.
The case came about in April, whenFather Xavier Ochoa admitted to the bishop that heâ€™d engaged in sexualmisconduct with a 12-year-old boy. Bishop Walsh immediately suspended FatherOchoa. But clergy, like other professionals, are also required by law to reportcases of child abuse.
A day after Father Ochoaâ€™s admission, Bishop Walsh asked the dioceseâ€™s attorneyto make a report, but it was a weekend. The lawyer asked his secretary to filethe report on Monday morning, and a series of reporting errors ensued,including delay on the part of Child Protective Services. The Sonoma CountySheriffâ€™s Department â€œofficiallyâ€ received a child-abuse report Wednesday,after Father Ochoa fled toMexico.
Media reporting on the casesuggested that Bishop Walsh willfully delayed filing the report long enough toallow the disgraced priest a chance to escape.
Participating in the counselingprogram will require the bishop to pay $350 and check in monthly with a caseworker. He might be required to undergo therapy or participate in communityservice.
for a listing of alternate locations.