Father Javier Heredia placed on administrative leave

CHARLESTON—Father Javier Heredia, administrator at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Lancaster and St. Michael Mission in Great Falls, was arrested on July 15 as the result of an allegation of inappropriate contact outside the clothing of a minor female while in a public wave pool, according to a statement from the Diocese of Charleston.

A judge set his bond at $2,500, which Father Heredia posted the day after his arrest. The case is being investigated by the York County Sheriff’s Department. Father Heredia has denied the allegation.

Upon learning of the arrest, as required by diocesan policy, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone immediately placed Father Heredia on administrative leave, according to the Aug. 24 statement. He is not allowed to function as a priest, wear clerical clothing, be on either of the two church campuses or participate in any of the parishes’ activities pending the outcome of the investigation.

Diocesan officials informed Father Heredia’s parishes about his arrest last weekend. Because he was parochial vicar at St. John Neumann Church in Columbia from mid-2014 until the end of 2016, information about the arrest has been communicated to parishioners there and to the parents of students who attend St. John Neumann School.

The diocese waited to tell parishioners because the alleged incident occurred in a public place and because the sheriff’s office immediately took responsibility for the investigation.

“We hoped there would be a quick resolution to the matter,” said Bishop Guglielmone, “but given the time that has passed with no conclusion, we felt it appropriate to inform the parishes about the allegation.”

Anyone with information about possible sexual abuse with minors by Church personnel is asked to notify civil authorities in their area. If you need assistance, please contact Louisa Storen, victim assistance coordinator for the diocese, at 800-921-8122. She can support anyone with reporting and provide professional counseling to the victim, if appropriate.

Bishop Guglielmone asks for continued prayers for all victims of abuse and for their families.