TUCSON,Ariz. -- A priest assigned to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson hasbeen indicted on charges he sexually abused two boys in the 1980s.TheRev. Gary E. Underwood was indicted on eight charges of sexual conductwith a minor and child molestation, the Pima County Attorney's Officesaid. The diocese lists Underwood as being on leave and currentlyserving as a chaplain at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, La.,but under diocese policy he has been suspended from the priesthood.He'saccused of victimizing two boys under the age of 15 in 1983 and 1984while serving as a priest at St. Odilia's Catholic Church, Deputy PimaCounty Attorney Kathleen Mayer said."He's innocent and we look forward to litigating," said Underwood's attorney, Dan Cooper.Underwoodis currently free on bond, but Cooper would not say where the priest isliving. His exact 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 andone nun with credible allegations of abuse against them. That's whenthe Tucson diocese reached a $14 million settlement with 10 men whosaid they were sexually abused by four local clergy members in the1960s, '70s and '80s.Three diocese priests have been imprisoned for sexual abuse.Theyinclude the Rev. Julian Sanz, former pastor of Immaculate ConceptionCatholic Church in Douglas. He was sentenced in 2003 to five years forsexually abusing an 11-year-old altar boy during confession in 1982.TheRev. Juan Guillen, the former associate pastor at Immaculate ConceptionCatholic Church in Yuma, is serving 10 years for two counts ofattempted child molestation for sexually abusing altar boys.TheRev. Thomas Purcell a member of the Society of Mary religious order, isserving 9 1/2 years for sexually abusing a South Tucson boy in the1980s.The diocese filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004 as itfaced a raft of lawsuits related to sexual abuse by priests. It becamethe first Catholic diocese in the country to emerge from Chapter 11protection in 2005. The diocese created a fund of more than $20 millionto compensate people molested by members of the clergy.___On the Net:Catholic Diocese of Tucson: http://www.diocesetucson.org/___Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com
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