Former Philadelphia priest Armand Garcia pleads guilty to child sex crimes | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A former Philadelphia priest pleaded guilty to felony child sex crimes Monday, and an ex-police officer received a 15 to 40 aggregated sentence in a separate case, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said in a news conference.

The DA’s office said former Catholic priest Armand Garcia pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of felony child sex crimes: one count of unlawful contact with a minor and one count of corrupting a minor. Former Philadelphia police officer Patrick Heron also pleaded guilty to child sex crimes last Friday.

“For far too long, Armand Garcia was able to evade suspicion and enjoy the protective comforts that afforded him by being a Catholic priest,” Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Clarke Beljean said. “No one suspected him of any wrongdoing because no one could imagine that a parish priest would behave this way.”

Garcia was arrested in 2019 for abusing the teen while he was at the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Philadelphia’s Andorra neighborhood between 2014 and 2017. He also committed unlawful conduct with the same girl in his home in Delaware County, the DA’s office said. He first met the girl when she was a 13-year-old altar server at the Immaculate Heart of Mary’s Elementary School.

Beljean said in a news conference Monday that the victim stood before the court Monday to share the impact of Garcia’s abuse.

“The victim’s resolve in continuing to participate in what turned out to be a lengthy court process,” Beljean said, “and to stand before the court this morning and powerfully describe the impact that the defendant’s actions of grooming beginning at 13, stealing her innocence at 16 and the practice of emotional manipulation has had on her, her family and that shows just how incredible of a young adult that the victim has grown to be.”

LaQuisha Anthony, program lead and advocacy coordinator of WOAR Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence, read a statement from Garcia’s victim during a news conference.

“For almost 10 years now, I have felt the impact of his abuse. His actions will haunt me forever and I truly will have them follow me to my grave. Christian doctrine tells us that we’re supposed to forgive others for their transgressions against us, but I cannot forgive this man. He will never understand the fear that I faced every day as a teenager knowing that when he insisted on raping me, I could do nothing to stop him.”

The victim’s lawyer, David Inscho, of Kline & Specter, PC issued the following statement after court dismissed Monday.

“Father Garcia’s guilty plea is not the end of the matter. We are pursuing civil litigation against the archdiocese to hold it accountable for allowing a sexual predator to abuse one of its parishioners,” the statement read.

Heron pleaded guilty Friday after agreeing to a plea deal of between 15 and 40 years behind bars for counts of unlawful contact, sexual abuse of children, forgery and related charges.

Heron allegedly sexually assaulted dozens of underage women in the city’s Kensington neighborhood while on duty between 2005 and 2017.

Prosecutors previously showed evidence of Heron taking pictures and videos with his victims while assaulting them, some in the backseat of his patrol unit.  

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