Weekend News / World

Priest charged with sexually-related offenses of altar boy

By Marion V. Ali

Israel Berrios Berrios, 58, a Roman Catholic priest in Puerto Rico, faces four sexually-related charges upon a 14-year-old boy. U.S. authorities arrested Berrios this past week at his residence in Naranjito, Puerto Rico.

Angel Melendez, a Puerto Rico-based special agent for Homeland Security Investigations, alleges that Berrios gained the trust of the boy’s mother over several years and then used a car connected to the local San Jose parish to transport the alleged victim knowing the young man “would engage in a commercial sex act.”

The indictment includes four charges: two counts of sex trafficking of children and two counts of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in prostitution and criminal sexual activity. Two of the charges stem from an alleged trip to the Bahamas.

Melendez also said the alleged abuse happened in 2007, when the alleged victim was 14 years old. The minor was serving as altar boy at San Jose’s Church in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. Berrios was the parish priest and also a director at a Catholic school there. If Berrios is convicted he can face 10 years to life in prison.

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