Nashville-area Catholic priest faces 10 child sex charges after June indictment

St Phillip Catholic Church

By Gabrielle Chenault

An associate pastor at St. Philip Catholic Church who was indicted earlier this year on sexual abuse charges is facing more charges in a new indictment.

A Williamson County grand jury returned a superseding indictment on June 5 charging Rev. Juan Carlos Garcia- Mendoza with two additional counts of sexual battery.

Garcia-Mendoza was originally indicted in February with one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, one count of aggravated sexual battery, four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and two counts of sexual battery.

Rev. Juan Carlos Garcia- Mendoza

He was ordained to the priesthood in 2020 at St. Rose of Lima in Murfreesboro and was assigned to St. Philip in July 2022.

St. Philip officials reported to the Diocese of Nashville Safe Environment Office in November 2023 that a teen in the parish had made a report of improper touching involving Garcia-Mendoza, records show. The diocese said Friday that Garcia-Mendoza was removed from public ministry in November.

Per diocesan protocols, church officials filed a report about the allegations against Garcia-Mendoza with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, officials said.

The church then hired an outside investigator, a former FBI agent, to investigate the allegations of abuse against Garcia-Mendoza after they were brought to light, according to a February statement.

“The Diocese of Nashville Review Board was promptly convened to evaluate information available from the investigation and to advise the bishop,” the statement reads, adding that the board then recommended to remove the priest from active ministry “Further, the investigative report and all available information were provided to the Franklin Police Department on the diocese’s own initiative.”

The Franklin Police Department said it was investigating in January, and the original indictment against Garcia-Mendoza followed in February.

The priest is being held in the Williamson County Jail on a $2 million bond.

His next court date is scheduled for July 8.

Meanwhile, the Franklin Police Department is asking anyone with information about Garcia-Mendoza to contact Det. Andrea Clark at 615-476-2809.

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