Hamilton priest charged with sex assault resigns post

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Hamilton Spectator


13 October 2011

A Hamilton Catholic priest expected in court Thursday to face a sexual assault charge has resigned his charge and wants to go home to Brazil.

Rev. José Silva, 34, a popular parish priest at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on Park Street North for the past two years, was arrested by Hamilton police Sept. 22.

The arrest followed investigation of a complaint by an 18-year-old musician who told police he was assaulted in the priest’s residence at the church during a festival held in the courtyard Sept. 18.

The Diocese of Hamilton announced Silva’s resignation late Wednesday. José Gildásico de Sousa Silva, a native of Brazil, has worked in Hamilton since October 2009. He was ordained on Feb. 8, 2003

Silva was released on bail Sept. 23 and expected to appear in Hamilton court Oct. 13.

Police said the youth was playing in a band booked at a festival in the church courtyard and at about 6:30 p.m., while the band was on a break, a priest struck up a conversation about playing guitar. The young man was invited to the priest’s residence on the parish property, to see a guitar.

“Out of respect, the man went with the priest,” said Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings. “While he was with the priest, it is alleged he was sexually assaulted.”

Collings said the young man was able to leave unharmed and immediately called police. Silva was later arrested while on duty, but away from the church grounds.

A statement provided by Pam Aleman, the diocese’s communications officer Wednesday noted “Fr. Silva has been, and will continue to be impeded in the public exercise of his religious duties while this serious matter is “sub judice”.

“The conditions of his release on surety entail restrictions on his freedom of movement and association. Since he is unable to serve the parish of Santa Maria for the foreseeable future, he has presented his resignation as Pastor to the Bishop of the Diocese of Hamilton so that appropriate pastoral provision can be made for this busy downtown faith community.”

The statement notes “Fr. Silva has further indicated that he no longer wishes to remain in pastoral ministry in this country and will be in consultation with his own Superior, Bishop Juarez Sousa da Silva, of Oeiras, Brazil.”

Bishop Crosby has accepted Silva’s resignation and will appoint an interim administrator for the parish.

The diocese also said the Bishop of Oeiras, Brazil, has been advised of the current situation and “shall attend to Fr. Silva’s future situation once a court adjudication has been determined.”

“The issue of the criminal charge against Fr. Silva is one which can only be dealt with by due process of law and one can only hope that justice will be done and be seen to be done quickly,” said Msgr. Vincent Kerr, Chancellor of the Diocese who has filled in at some St. Mary’s masses since the arrest.

“I am only too aware of the disruption which has been caused in the normal routine of parish life at Santa Maria,” Kerr said.

I have encouraged parishioners to behave with dignity and restraint and not to engage in second-guessing the judicial process—however protracted that may prove to be.”

Kerr said he will be in contact with the parish staff and council to cover the worship schedule and consider finding a suitable replacement for Silva.

The Hamilton Spectator


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