Bronx DA: Father Jaime Duenas Said 'She Didn't Protest Giving Her A Massage'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A longtime priest at a Catholic church in the Bronx has been arrested, charged with sexually abusing a 16-year-old employee.

CBS 2’s John Slattery reports what’s most surprising in this case is the priest’s age.

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Facing charges is Father Jaime Duenas, 87, arrested for sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl.

Former parishioner Travis Brown said he’s known Duenas since childhood.

“Some people have sick thoughts in their mind. Yeah, sick thoughts, and they need to get help if that’s the case, you know?” Brown said.

The priest is the pastor of The Nativity of Our Blessed Lady Church in the Bronx, which has a school. The teenage girl worked in the rectory, across from the church. The arrest upset parishioners.

“My daughter called me yesterday crying. She used to go there and she graduated last year,” Tyese Donaldson said.

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Duenas is charged with sexual abuse, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child. The Bronx District Attorney’s Office quoted Duenas as saying, “She didn’t protest giving her a massage. She wore short skirts.”

The girl was apparently hired only last week and the Archdiocese of New York appears to have acted swiftly in removing the priest from his post.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said only Wednesday did it learn of the allegations from Duenas himself, and added: “The Archdiocese of New York today suspended Father Jaime Duenas following his arrest last night on charges of inappropriate touching of a teenage girl.  He will leave the parish and will not be permitted to function as a priest, at least until the matter is resolved.”

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said a thorough review of the priest’s file indicates this is new.  There were no such allegations in the past.

The Colombian-born priest has been in New York since the late 1960s and at the parish since 1991.

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