Monday , May 27 2024

Los Banos Priest Arrested

Los Banos Police arrested 65 year old Rev. Robert Gamel Wednesday for having a photo on his computer depicting a minor engaging in a sexual act.

The charges were filed 10 months after allegations against the priest at St. Joseph Church in Los Banos surfaced.

"If anyone is struggling with this or any other related issue that they feel safety is being compromised at the parish at a Catholic School please bring it to the attention to someone in a leadership role. We will do all that we can to be present to their need," Teresa Dominguez with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno said.

Parents of the male teenage victim contacted the Diocese in August of 2014 after concerns over inappropriate behavior.

Victim Assistance Coordinator Cheryl Sarkisian called police after interviewing the victim.

"We deal with that as a serious allegation and we move forward with what we need to do with that priest and in this instance that priest was put on immediate administrative leave," Sarkisian said.

Los Banos Police say the investigation was a lengthy process and forensic search of Gamel’s computer took months. He has been a priest over 25 years — serving in Bakersfield before Los Banos.

"There are in depth not only background checks but psychological assessments before a priest even goes into the seminary," Dominguez said.

The arrest happened on the same day Pope Francis approved an unprecedented Vatican department to judge bishops accused of covering up sexual abuse cases.

"I would hope that is a true sign of hope for us here locally but also on a global basis. Our children are precious," Dominguez said.

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