A Catholic priest in the Philadelphia Archdiocese has been charged with rape and corruption of minors for alleged misconduct that occurred between 2014 and 2017, according to court records and a church statement.
The Rev. Armand Garcia, 49, of Aston, was arrested Monday for an alleged assault that happened in August 2014 while Garcia served at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the Andorra section of Philadelphia.
Garcia most recently resided at Saint Martin of Tours Parish, which is on Roosevelt Boulevard in the city's Summerdale section.
Garcia’s arrest comes as the Vatican continues to grapple with a worldwide sexual abuse scandal and after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s release last year of a scathing grand jury report that named hundreds of predator priests in Pennsylvania’s other dioceses.
He also was arraigned Monday on charges of rape, photograph/film/depict on computer sex act, and corruption of minors, according to online court documents.
He posted 10 percent of $250,000 bail and was released. Garcia's attorney, Bill Brennan, previously defended two priests in unrelated criminal cases.
“Neither of those two prior priest defendants were convicted of either jury," Brennan said. "I say that not to toot my horn. I say that to remind people that innocent until proven guilty isn’t just an abstract concept.”
Brennan also told NBC10 no money from the Archdiocese will be used for his client's legal fees.
“The Archdiocese and I have not teamed up in the past, and I don’t think we’ll be teaming up now. I wish them well, but hopefully they’ll just stay out of my way," Brennan said. “Frankly, the way that they handle their operations, I don’t want their help.”
The archdiocese said in a statement Tuesday that Garcia has been on administrative leave since March 16, 2018, when Philadelphia police first notified the archdiocese of a sex assault allegation against the priest.
"The Archdiocese cooperated with law enforcement during the course of the criminal investigation that has been ongoing for the past year," the archdiocese said in a statement. "Father Garcia lived in a private residence for the duration of that period with no access to any parish or school."
The move to Saint Martin of Tours from Immaculate Heart in 2017 was made "in the course of normal personnel changes," the archdiocese said. Garcia served as a parish priest at IHM and a pastor at Saint Martin of Tours.
After the notification of a police investigation, Archbishop Charles Chaput restricted Garcia’s priestly faculties and banned him from presenting himself publicly as a priest.
The archdiocese says that parishioners at Garcia’s most recent assignments — Saint Martin of Tours Parish and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish — were made aware of the allegations against Garcia last year.
"These charges are serious and disturbing. The Archdiocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement regarding this matter and remains fervently committed to preventing child abuse as well as protecting the children and young people entrusted to its care," the archdiocese statement said.
Garcia was ordained in 2005. The archdiocese said he has served at the following parishes, schools and offices: Saint Joseph, Downingtown (2005-2008); Saint Eleanor, Collegeville (2008-2009); Saint Katherine of Siena, Philadelphia (2009-2010); personal leave (2010-2011); Our Lady of the Assumption, Strafford (2011); Immaculate Heart of Mary, Philadelphia (2011-2017); Saint Martin of Tours, Philadelphia (2017-2018).
The archdiocese urged victims of sexual abuse by clergy to reach out to the Victim Assistance Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Victims can also call police.