A priest at a Little Village neighborhood church has been charged with sexually abusing two women after turning himself in to Chicago police on Thursday.
Rigoberto Gamez, 52, faces two felony counts of criminal sexual abuse, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He additionally faces a misdemeanor count of battery in connection with an incident involving a 17-year-old girl.
The felony charges stem from accusations made by two women, ages 19 and 27, who said Gamez touched them inappropriately between November 2016 and December 2017, Assistant State’s Attorney Guy Lisuzzo.
Both women described Gamez hugging them and then touching their breasts, Lisuzzo said. The older woman also accused Gamez of making statements that “the act was pleasurable,” and that he was “shaking and sweating” when he touched her. She wasn’t able to remove his hand until he released her, and he later allegedly sent her text messages about the incident.
The younger woman said Gamez touched her in a similar way, including during a Dec. 15, 2017 Christmas banquet at the church, Lisuzzo said. She also alleged that he put his hands under her shirt to touch the skin on her back. Around Dec. 30 of that year, he called her into his office and groped her breast. Afterwards, she contacted the 29-year-old woman and told her what happened and also told others.
Gamez was confronted by the parents of the 19-year-old woman after she told them what happened, Lisuzzo said. When confronted, he allegedly cried and “accepted blame for what he did.”
The incident involving the 17-year-old occurred when Gamez approached her on the street and took her hand, Lisuzzo said. He then brought her face close to his and would not let go.
Gamez turned himself in to Chicago police on Thursday, according to authorities.
At a bail hearing Friday, Gamez’s attorney said the Archdiocese of Chicago had a place where Gamez would stay while the case continued and said he would not be working at the church.
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is committed to ensuring that parishioners are served by priests who are fit for ministry,” Susan Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said in a statement Friday. “Moreover, it is critically important that all who work in our parishes and ministries understand behavioral expectations of them.”
Thomas said the Archdiocese would also introduce additional measures to train priests and parish personnel “on sexual harassment and boundary violation prevention.”
Judge John F. Lyke Jr. ordered Gamez, of Wicker Park, released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond and told him not to contact the woman or have contact with anyone under the age of 18. He will also be required to go on electronic monitoring to be released.
His next court date was scheduled for Oct. 19.