As a Catholic and member of Holy Spirit parish, it is my pleasure to respond to Emilio C. Lopez (letter Jan. 20).
Father Eric Swearingen was not "found guilty." This was a civil trial and the jury was not able to provide any verdict, thus a mistrial. Any "conclusion" a juror held prior to a verdict is moot.
Mr. Lopez is concerned that a lack of disciplinary action or reprimand "sends a bad message to our children."
To impose disciplinary action or reprimand based on an unsupported accusation would send a bad message to everyone.
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An investigation of this complaint was conducted in Bakersfield and Fresno and by the Diocese of Fresno. None found sufficient evidence to support the allegation. Father Eric gave full cooperation to the investigation, even submitting to and passing a polygraph exam.
A December letter to our parish from Bishop John T. Steinbock summed it up nicely: "The Catholic Church is doing a great deal now to protect children under its care, and to reach out to victims of sexual abuse of priests. But doing this cannot be done in such a manner as to punish innocent priests."
I think he deserves a standing "O."