AIKEN, S.C. (AP/WCSC) - A Catholic priest in South Carolina won’t face criminal charges for exchanging sexual photos with a minor on social media.
Aiken County Sheriff's Capt. Eric Abdullah said the minor listed himself as 18 years old when he exchanged explicit photos on the Grindr dating app with 33-year-old Father Raymond Flores.
Abdullah said deputies consulted prosecutors and they agreed no crime was committed because the juvenile said he was an adult.
“This investigation revealed that there were no articulable or attainable evidence that would have risen beyond the initial complaint to the establishment of probable cause for criminal charges,” he said.
Abdullah said in a statement that Flores, the juvenile and his family and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston all cooperated and that the juvenile’s family agreed with the decision.
Investigators presented their findings to the 2nd Circuit Solicitor’s Office as well as the SC Attorney General’s Office, he said.
A statement from the Diocese also says Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone accepted Flores from the Diocese of Brooklyn with the knowledge of a report that he had an inappropriate consensual relationship with an adult woman approximately four years earlier, which was a violation of his promise of celibacy. Guglielmone agreed to accept Flores for ministry at the Diocese of Charleston after learning Flores has attended counseling and had recommitted himself to his vow of celibacy.
“There has never been any allegation against Father Flores related to sexual abuse of a minor, and he would never have been accepted in this Diocese for ministry had there been any such allegation,” Diocese spokesperson Maria Aselage said in a statement Thursday. “Although Father’s past conduct is clearly inappropriate for a priest, albeit not unlawful, it is now an internal personnel matter.”