Second Witness Testifies That Catholic Priest’s Accuser Admitted to Lying

News: US News
by Michael Hichborn  •  •  September 11, 2019   

Arlington diocese ignores potentially exonerating information

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Since May of 2019, The Lepanto Institute has been spotlighting the diocese of Arlington's handling of possible false allegations leveled against one of its priests. In November of 2018, Fr. Ronald Escalante, pastor of St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville, Virginia, was removed from his parish due to an alleged "boundary violation."


This past May, The Lepanto Institute published an article with interviews of parishioners who made multiple attempts to give important information to the diocese.

Central to their concerns were alleged efforts to recruit parishioners into making false allegations against Fr. Escalante by the parish's director of religious education (DRE), James Blankenship.

In June of 2019, The Lepanto Institute revealed that a girl (Sophia 1) made multiple, unsuccessful attempts to tell the diocese that the girl accusing Fr. Escalante (Molly) admitted to a group of girls that she lied about the accusation. In a letter sent to the diocese on April 8, Sophia 1 made the following claims regarding Molly.

Key points contained in the letter are as follows:

  • In January, Sophia 1 and a group of others discovered Molly crying in the girls' locker room.
  • Molly swore the girls (four in total) to secrecy and said that her mother was forcing her to make a false allegation against her pastor.
  • Molly said that the associate pastor, Fr. Mullaney, had convinced Molly's mother that "for the better good of the parish," Molly needed to accuse Fr. Escalante of improper conduct.
  • Molly told the girls that she didn't want to do that since nothing improper had occurred.
  • Being forced by her mother to make this false allegation was causing her "immense stress."
  • Molly said that she feared her mother and was afraid of what would happen to her family if this information got out.

Despite claiming to have never received the letter from Sophia 1 or the calls from her parents, after the publication of our article, the Arlington diocese finally sought out and obtained an interview with Sophia 1 to discuss what she witnessed.

Billy Atwell, chief communications officer for the diocese of Arlington, confirmed that the interview took place but indicated that no comment beyond confirmation of the meeting could be offered "in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation and protect the reputations of all of the parties involved."

Since the interview, a second witness (Sophia 2) has come forward to testify that Molly admitted to lying about her accusation against Fr. Escalante. Fearing repercussions if her identity was discovered, Sophia 2 gave her testimony to two parishioners as an affidavit. The authenticity of the testimony was sworn and notarized on Aug. 10.

Read the rest at The Lepanto Institute.


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