Catholic Priest Tried For Abuse to Work at Fresno High School

A Catholic priest tried for molesting a former altar boy has been named the rector of a parochial high school in Fresno.

The Rev. Eric Swearingen is due to start at San Joaquin Memorial
High School next month.

Last year, Army staff sergeant Juan Rocha brought a civil suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, claiming Swearingen molested him at parishes in Fresno and Bakersfield in the 1980s and 1990s.

During the civil trial, Swearingen's attorneys said the priest let Rocha sleep in his room at church rectories, but said all behavior behind closed doors was appropriate.

A Fresno County Superior Court judge declared a mistrial a year ago because the jury couldn't reach a verdict, and Swearingen went back to work as pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

A diocesan spokesman says the case has been referred to confidential arbitration.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-12-28-07 1336EST


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