On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, the following press release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's office of the District of South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — A federal grand jury in Columbia returned a 3-count indictment against Jamie Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, a/k/a “Father Gonzalez,” a/k/a “E,” 67, a former South Carolina priest, for the alleged sexual abuse of an 11-year-old minor.
The indictment charges three counts: Coercion and Enticement of a Minor, Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity, and Aggravated Sexual Abuse with a Child. The Grand Jury also identified Florida state statutes of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation and Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition as implicated by Gonzalez-Farias’s conduct.
The indictment alleges that Gonzalez-Farias has been ordained as a Priest since at least 1990, and that he has held various positions in the churches in which he served, including Pastor, Parochial Vicar, Administrator, Chaplain, and Priest. The indictment further alleges that Gonzalez-Farias began serving in South Carolina in 2015, and that he sexually abused a minor to whom he had access by virtue of his service as a Priest.
As indicated on the public docket (Criminal No. 3:22-cr-874), Gonzalez-Farias was arrested in Miami, Florida, on November 28, 2022, and placed in the custody of the United States Marshals. On January 9, 2023, he made his initial appearance in federal court in Columbia, South Carolina. At that hearing, the Government requested the defendant remain detained, and Gonzalez-Farias elected to not request a bond at this time. United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges ordered that Gonzalez-Farias remain detained pending trial.
Gonzalez-Farias faces a mandatory sentence of at least 30 years in federal prison and a maximum of Life on the Aggravated Sexual Abuse With a Child count. He faces a mandatory sentence of at least 10 years and a maximum of Life on the remaining counts. He also faces fines of up to $250,0o, a $5,000 special assessment, mandatory restitution payable to any victims, court-ordered supervision for life to follow any term of imprisonment, and requirements to register as a sex offender.
“The exploitation of children – particularly by those in positions of trust – will not be tolerated in our state,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “Our commitment to victims and survivors is that when they are met with abuse, offenders will be met with a full measure of accountability.”
“The defendant’s alleged actions are deeply troubling,” said FBI Columbia Special Agent in Charge Susan Ferensic. “The FBI will not stand for crimes committed against children, and we are poised to use the full weight of our agency to protect minors and hold offenders accountable.”
The FBI is seeking the public’s help in identifying potential victims. If you believe you or your minor dependent(s) were victimized by Gonzalez-Farias, or if you have relevant information about Gonzalez-Farias the FBI should know, you are encouraged to contact the FBI at 803-551-4200.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliott B. Daniels and E. Elizabeth Major are prosecuting the case.
U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs stated that all charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.