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Church in Mexico relieves priest of duties years after woman alleges abuse

By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 27, 2010; A08

Roman Catholic Church officials in Mexico have temporarily relieved a priest of his parish duties pending further investigation of long-standing allegations that he sexually abused a girl in San Francisco during the 1960s and early 1970s, according to a press release issued Monday in Spanish by the Archdiocese of Yucatan.

The priest, the Rev. Teodoro Baquedano Pech, 70, who has denied engaging in abuse, had been ministering in several rural hamlets near Yucatan's state capital, Merida.

A recent Washington Post article described how for 12 years Baquedano's alleged victim, Sylvia Chavez, now 54, and top church officials in San Francisco repeatedly warned church leaders in Yucatan about the priest. In 2003 a top deputy of Emilio Carlos Berlie Belaunzarán, the archbishop of Yucatan, responded in a letter that "we have taken all precautions to restrict Father Baquedano's access to children." Baquedano was never removed from ministry, however.

The news release issued Monday said: "Although we received warnings about an alleged victim, we did not have official documentation as a basis to initiate a canon trial . . . nor have we received any complaint [against Baquedano] during his years in Yucatan. . . . Notwithstanding this, the Archbishop has decided as a cautionary measure to provisionally remove Father Baquedano from his duties until a thorough investigation can be done."

Reached at her home in San Francisco, Chavez said that if Berlie is serious about uncovering the truth about Baquedano, he will ask to speak to her. "They need to hear from his victim this time."

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