Ex-Priest in New Report Jailed on New Charges in San Jose

One of 15 former priests found to have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children within a Northern California diocese is facing new allegations of molesting girls.

The former priest, 90-year-old Hernan Toro, has been held at the Santa Clara County Jail since last fall on accusations of molesting two girls, ages 10 and 12, between 2011 and 2015.

The mother of one of the alleged victims came forward to the police with the allegations in August 2017. She said she reached out to police after finding Toro's name on the Megan's Law sex offender website.

The woman, whose identity is being protected due to her connection with a minor, told NBC Bay Area that her family was very close to the then-retired priest, close to the point where they spent nights at his house.

"Unfortunately the closest to us sometimes can be the one that hurts us the most," she said. She also said her daughter would call him "grampa."

When she asked her daughter if Toro had done anything inappropriate, she said her daughter broke down in tears, "afraid that we were not going to believe her."

The diocese report says Toro was convicted of sexual misconduct with a child in 1983 in Santa Clara and listed his whereabout as San Leandro. But records show he's been in a San Jose jail since October 2017. Records also showed that Toro was allowed to serve at two other parishes before he retired.

Churches, Schools and Religious Centers with Links to Publicly Accused Priests

This map includes names released by the San Jose Diocese, names of priests who have been identified by Bishop Accountability and names of priests identified in lawsuits. Note: This map will be updated as more information is released.

Source: San Jose Diocese, Bishop Accountability
Credit: Sean Myers/NBC Bay Area

San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath released the priests' names Thursday as part of an effort to reassure parishioners following a stunning August report by Pennsylvania authorities.

Diocese spokeswoman Liz Sullivan said the church wasn't aware of the new allegations. She did not respond to requests for comment about how the diocese conducted its research on the former priests' current whereabouts.

The molestation charges against Toro stem from alleged abuse of a girl between 4 and 6 years old and an 11-year-old girl.

McGrath apologized in a statement Thursday "for the actions of those who were in positions of authority and who violated that sacred trust by abusing children."

"The sexual abuse of children and young people is an appalling crime and a sin," he said.

Bishop Michael C. Barber of the Oakland Diocese said he also is planning to release a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse in the coming weeks. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said he's also considering such a move.

Roz Plater contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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