TUCSON, Ariz. -- A chaplain at Barksdale AirForce Base has been indicted on charges that he sexually abused twoboys in the 1980s in Arizona.

The Rev. Gary E. Underwood, apriest assigned to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson and a major inthe Air Force, was indicted on eight charges of sexual conduct with aminor and child molestation, the Pima County attorney's office said.

Thediocese lists Underwood as being on leave and serving at Barksdale. Butunder diocese policy, he has been suspended from the priesthood.

Underwoodis accused of victimizing two boys under the age of 15 in 1983 and 1984while serving as a priest at St. Odilia's Catholic Church, Pima CountyDeputy Attorney Kathleen Mayer said.

"He's innocent and we look forward to litigating," said Underwood's attorney, Dan Cooper.

Underwoodis free on bond. Cooper would not say where the priest is living. Hisexact age was not available, but he is now in his early 50s.

Officials with the Tucson diocese declined to comment, referring all questions to the prosecutor.

Prosecutorslearned of the accusations from the diocese, Mayer said, after churchofficials spoke to a relative of one of the men who says he was abused.

The prosecutor said Underwood served at St. Odilia's from 1982 to 1988 and was arraigned Nov. 17.

Thediocese in 2002 began compiling a list of 30 priests, two deacons and anun with credible allegations of abuse against them. That's when theTucson diocese reached a $14 million settlement with 10 men who saidthey were sexually abused by four local clergy members in the 1960s,'70s and '80s.

Three diocese priests have been imprisoned for sexual abuse. They include:

  • the Rev. Julian Sanz, a former pastor of Immaculate Conception CatholicChurch in Douglas, Ariz., who was sentenced in 2003 to five years forsexually abusing an 11-year-old altar boy during confession in 1982.

  • the Rev. Juan Guillen, a former associate pastor at ImmaculateConception Catholic Church in Yuma, Ariz., who is serving 10 years ontwo counts of attempted child molestation for sexually abusing altarboys.

  • the Rev. Thomas Purcell, a member of the Society ofMary religious order who is serving 9 1/2 years for sexually abusing aSouth Tucson, Ariz., boy in the 1980s.


  • The diocese filedfor bankruptcy protection in 2004 as it faced a raft of lawsuitsrelated to sexual abuse by priests. It became the first Catholicdiocese in the country to emerge from Chapter 11 protection in 2005.

    The diocese created a fund of more than $20 million to compensate people molested by members of the clergy.