In keeping with the Legion of Christ’s commitment to safe environments for all its members, Fr Luis Garza, LC, North American territorial director of the Legion of Christ, informed its members of a sexual abuse case involving Fr William Izquierdo, LC.
In July 2012, Fr Garza was informed of an allegation regarding sexual abuse in the United States involving Fr Izquierdo and a novice when the former served as novice instructor in Cheshire, CT. He held that position from 1982 to 1994.
In addition to reporting to local authorities, the Legion commissioned Praesidium, Inc. to provide a thorough, independent investigation, which concluded in August 2013. Its findings were presented and carefully analyzed by the Legion’s North American review board in October 2013.
“After reviewing the information, we have no reason to doubt that sexual abuse with a minor actually occurred,” Fr Garza said. The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has been informed of the case.
Since the early 2000s, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) have provided strong leadership in the vital goal of providing a safe environment for young people in all Church activities. The Legion of Christ, following their lead, has adopted policies and procedures aimed at protecting young people and eliminating abuse. The congregation is committed to investigating and responding appropriately to all allegations of misconduct, so that the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse may be overcome.
Over the past decade, the Legion has implemented a stringent program to maintain safe environments, including audits of its facilities, training of its members and adoption of a strict code of conduct. This case occurred many years ago, but Fr Garza said he learned about it in 2012 and that it was handled with the openness and transparency demanded by current standards.
Fr Izquierdo’s health has been very poor for some time. He is 85, has declined greatly and is now in an advanced state of dementia. He has not exercised ministry since 2008. He is and was unable to respond to questions about the allegations. Fr Izquierdo is in the process of being moved to an assisted living facility where he will receive proper treatment.
“As territorial director, I want to express my deep sorrow for the suffering endured by anyone as a result of Fr Izquierdo’s actions,” Fr Garza said. “My prayers are with them as well as our every effort to provide healing for the psychological and spiritual wounds endured. As painful as this revelation is, I feel it is a necessary step in the healing process and in the protection of those under our care and guidance.
“Despite his health and diminishing cognitive capacities, I believe it is necessary to inform you, my brother priests and religious, about this case. First, because we place a high moral value on ensuring any victim knows that he will be listened to and cared for with compassion. Second, we believe that this may also provide relief to others who might have suffered similarly and will allow them to come forward.”
Fr Garza concluded: “I want to again emphasize to our members, their parents and families that the Legion of Christ is totally committed to providing safe environments in its schools, seminaries and youth activities. Please keep everyone involved in your prayers, asking for God’s gifts of healing and strength.”
The Legion recently received another allegation against Fr Izquierdo, which will be investigated. Fr Steven Reilly, LC, is the Legion’s US safe environment coordinator (email@example.com) (301.580.0340). If anyone has further information regarding misconduct by Fr Izquierdo in the United States, please contact him.
Legion Child and Youth Protection