This story was updated Aug. 1 with additional information.
AIKEN—Father Raymond Flores, parochial vicar at St. Mary Help of Christians Church, has been placed on administrative leave without the ability to perform priestly duties as a result of behavior inappropriate of a priest. The inappropriate conduct did not involve the touching of a minor.
In a press release, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston stated that it made every effort to protect the privacy of the minor involved in the incident with Father Flores. Father Flores did not target the youth online. He and the young man exchanged information on an app intended for adults.
The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, in a press release the morning of Aug. 1, affirmed that there will be no charges brought against Father Flores because he had every reason to believe his online communications were with an adult.
Parish and diocesan officials followed all legal and appropriate protocols, including prompt notification of law enforcement officials.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone accepted Father Raymond 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. Bishop Guglielmone was advised that Father Flores had attended counseling and that, after an extended period of prayerful discernment, he had recommitted himself to his vow of celibacy. Therefore, Bishop Guglielmone agreed to accept Father Flores for ministry in the Diocese of Charleston, although he remained a permanent priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn. There has never been any allegation against Father Flores related to sexual abuse of a minor, and he would never have been accepted for ministry in the Diocese of Charleston if there had been any such allegation.
Although Father Flores’ past conduct is clearly inappropriate for a priest, albeit not unlawful, it is now an internal personnel matter.
The safety of children and youth is a top priority at St. Mary Help of Christians Church and School, and in all parishes and schools throughout the Diocese of Charleston. Additionally, diocesan officials provide appropriate resources to those involved in situations affecting or potentially affecting young people.