'The church knew he was a predator': Victim advocate speaks out on former Phoenix priest's indictment
PHOENIX - A former catholic priest in the valley was charged with child sex crimes dating back to the 2000s.
Father John Spaulding, 74, is accused of sexually abusing two young boys in the early 2000s, and Thursday, he was indicted by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
According to the Diocese of Phoenix, Spaulding is removed from the ministry and can't publicly identify himself as a priest.
Mary O'Day works with an organization, SNAP, that advocates for victims and says his alleged abuse dates back several years. "We are very excited that they got a grand jury indictment. It means they found enough evidence and put enough pieces together," she said.
He's been charged with 6 counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child. The two boys were under the age of 15 at the time the alleged crimes happened.
According to the indictment, the alleged crimes happened between 2003 and 2007. During that time, Spaulding was a priest at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in Phoenix and St. Tim's in Mesa. He worked at several other churches before then.
"The fact that he was moved between so many churches is a red flag, that the church knew he was a predator. That's what they do, they move them to a new church, which gives them access to a whole new group of children," O'Day claimed.
According to a statement released by officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, in June of 2011, Spaulding was placed on leave following an investigation and determination that an allegation against him of sexual misconduct with a minor was credible.
In January of 2014, Spaulding was found guilty of "sins against the sixth commandment with a minor" by a panel convened at the direction of Vatican officials. He was suspended and then laicized from the clergy, removal of his clerical duties.
He appealed his removal.
O'Day says Spaulding's abuse actually dates back to the '70s and '80s. She says the only way for indictments like this to happen is when victims come forward. "More and more adults are coming forward and reporting what happened, the church and prosecutors have to listen now," she explained.
O'Day is currently working with the attorney general to try and get a hotline set up for more potential victims to call in and report their claims.
Spaulding is due in court in February to enter a plea.