ERIC ~ I traveled to Mexico for the first time, in 2005, with Mary Grier, a Snap director ...we found out, in a 2-day investigation that there were over 40 priests that were accused of molestation or have been convicted of abusing kids in the U.S., who had escaped to Mexico and who were currently working, not only as priests, but as teachers, directors of orphanages, psychologists, who had direct contact with children.
Pedophilia in Mexico is not a crime. Pedophilia in Mexico is a psychological disorder that can not be prosecuted as a crime. Then, because of that, the Church has safe-haven for the priests who abuse more than one child, who are considered pedophiles. And, because they're considered pedophiles, they can't be prosecuted under Mexican law. So, it's a very strong country for predators to be able to get away with their crimes. Perpetrators can be accused of sexual abuse and sexual assault ...but, what we've found, is that the Church will defend perpetrators by saying pedophiles are sent off to pedophile camp to get psychological help, and then say, ‘they're cured ... and we can put them back into ministry'. Those are the same excuses the Catholic Church used for decades to protect and transfer their priests ...which was, to tell authorities, ‘We'll take care of the priests, we'll give them psychological help, and they'll be rehabilitated and will do harm to children, no more. That's what's going in here in Mexico, and I'm hearing case after case after case of people who are finally coming forward, which is a miracle in itself.
No priest had ever been convicted of committing a crime against a child, here in Mexico ...until, the case of Joaquin Aguilar. The case became international news, because of the fact that here, was a case where two cardinals, Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles and Cardinal Rivera of Mexico were being sued for international conspiracy and covering-up sexual abuse by a priest who was being transferred from country to country. [Editor's note: see Jeff Anderson, his case.]
Before that lawsuit was filed in September of 2006, no priest had ever been convicted ...there were priests that had been charged, but no priest had ever been convicted of a crime against a child in Mexico. There were charges raised against many priests here in Mexico for child abuse ...but, none had ever been convicted. So, looking at Joaquin Aguilar, even though the priest that abused him and abused over 100 over boys both in the U.S. and here in Mexico, he's still a fugitive from the law, and there's an arrest warrant out for his arrest here in Mexico and in the U.S.
Now, we're seeing the actual governmental officials in Mexico are no longer ceding to what the Catholic Church is saying. Domestic violence law ...because of Joaquin's case here in Mexico, the Government finally was able to pass a domestic violence law ... which was opposed for decades, because here, women are subservient to men. They finally were able to pass it.
Gay marriage is now legal in Mexico. Again, because the Church was forbidden about influencing anything political, as if the Government told them, ‘You take care of your pedophile priests, first ... before you talk about morality to us.' That pretty much shut-up the Church. And, because that shut-up the Church, the Government legislators have finally been able to have the power to create laws.
Age of consent, was not a law in Mexico until December of last year. You could have sex with a 16-year-old child, and it was not against the law. So, age of consent is now a law.
NAME OF LAW NEEDED. And what is as powerful as all those three combined, is that the Federal Government set the precedent of Mexico signing into law, than any person in a religious cult that is credible accused of harming a child, whether sexual of physical or mental, is by the Federal Government barred from ministering religion until the case is resolved ...and, if the issue is resolved and they're found guilty, then they can never hold a key position of trust or religious confidence in the nation of Mexico. This means, they are going to strip a priest of being a priest, which was a power only the Church had ...and still only has in any other country in the world. That law was passed in February of 2007, and the President signed it into law in April.
And the Church was furious, of course.
I was born in the United States to Mexican parents. Both my parents are also U.S. citizens, they became U.S. citizens in 1993. Under the Mexican Constitution law, any child born of Mexican parents is allowed to become a Mexican national, as well. So, I hold dual citizenship, both the U.S. and in Mexico. Because I have dual citizenship, I can rally against the government and the Church, without fear of prosecution ...where any U.S. citizen down here talking about the government or its laws, they will be arrested. That's why I was able to really work for changing the laws. I have conscience, and various lead stringers here in Mexico, that are really forward in the work they are doing. Sadly enough, it's only the Church when we came out with the cases against the Church, and started demyth-ifying the fact that in the Church sexual abuse is taking place, and people start paying attention, the Church start blaming Snap for everything, and kept saying, ‘Snap-this-Snap-that, all they want is money, [said] the only reason Eric Vergon is here in Mexico is provoking attacks on the Church, he's the anti-Christ the Bible speaks of.'
They went as far to say that I was the anti-Christ.
They start preaching in the Church, that I was here, that I was the one the Bible said would come to destroy the Church. The Priest, and actually, the Cardinal himself, here in Mexico City, said that
We're actually going to be posing the first civil law suit from a victim here in Mexico, against the Church hierarchy and again a priest, we'll be making that public in a couple weeks.
I was still was not a Mexican citizen ...it was a process I still had to go through. But, I was invited by the Mexican Government, the Legislature, to come in and for the first time, ever, the non-Mexican, non-Governmental official ... I was just a regular citizen of the U.S. ... I was invited to the Chamber of Deputies to testify before members of Mexico's Congress, on the issue of pedophilia ...the effects it had on people, such as myself, being an adult, now ...and having been a victim of this ...and, what I knew about the Church and what consequences my case of me being victimized, what happened to me in my life ...how there was a collaboration between Church officials from Parish to Parish to cover-up the this abuse ...and what long-term affects such mistreatment has on people ...and what my experience in the U.S. has been with other victims.
So, I was allowed to testify on this issue. Also, regarding the introduction of law, I was asked to present laws that would be conducive to protecting children, such that the Legislature in Mexico could change their Constitution to allow laws to exist to protect children ... those were some of the recommendations I provided.
[AA] In terms of a timeline, you had a case in Los Angeles? ...then the Mexican Legislature called you into testity? ...and then, you folks implicated the Cardinal of Mexico City? ...or, had you implicated him, previously?
[E] We had already implicated him in Mexico ...actually, it wasn't in Mexico, what happened ... was that the Cardinal of Mexico and the Cardinal of Los Angeles were sued in Los Angeles ...but, we brought the lawsuit to Mexico to explain why we were suing the Cardinal of Mexican descent, then why were we suing in Los Angeles. And so, we made the connection of an international conspiracy between the two Cardinals covering up the abuse. The fact that, the Cardinal had at one point in 1987, while he was Bishop of a Diocese in Bredlock-sp?, transferred the Priest to Los Angeles, knowing that he had been accused ... and that he'd been left for dead ...because some of the kids that he was abusing and raping went against him and attacked him, and pretty much left him for dead in a bedroom. So the Bishop ...he's a Cardinal now, he was a Bishop then, transferred the predator priest to Los Angeles, under auspices that he was being transferred for reasons of ‘house and family'.
We later confirmed, that ‘for reasons of house and family' in the Church hierarchy is code for, ‘he's a pedophile escaping prosecution'. We found this out from Cardinal Rivera as the person being sued ...that's his own testimony he provided the Court of Los Angeles in a written document. He tells the court that Mahoney knew he was receiving a person who was involved with pedophilia and sexual abuse, because, according to his letter that was written in secret Church code, he notified Mahoney that the priest had problems.
[AA] Was that the same priest that you had problems with?
[E] No. The priest that abused me, I was sexually abused in 1988. He name was Carlos Rodriquez. Actually, he is one of only three priests in California who is sitting behind bars.
Both my brothers and I were molested and raped this priest.
I was able to sue him because my statutes of limitations for myself and my younger brother had not run out. On my older brother, it had. Myself and my younger brother ... the priest actually pleaded guilty to a few felony counts ...because of that, he's behind bars.
He's one of three priests who's actually sitting in a jail in California ...because, almost everybody else was released from jail after the Stockton case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, who decided that priests could not be prosecuted for old crimes.
[AA] As a result of what happened to you, did you turn away from the Church? ...and, did you turn away from God?
[E] No. I turned away from the Church as an institution ...but, I hold fast to my faith. Previous to that, I had seriously considered going into the Priesthood. I believe it's a very strong, and very worthwhile, religion ...that supports a lot of people socially and then, spiritually. So, I still believe in my faith. I've tried two other Christian churches since I came out with myself being abused. I've visited other Christian churches to see if I could fit in, somewhere else ...and I really didn't fit in, because I felt the Catholic Church was where I belonged.
But, I don't go to Lent.
I only go to special services, whether they're baptisms, or first communions, or what involves my family ...but, I do not regularly attend.
I still believe in God.
I still believe in the same faith.
I still pray on a regular basis.
I personally believe, that through all this, our Church will get stronger ...and, once it's healed, it will once again be a very beautiful religion. I personally feel very strongly about that.