City Priest Faces Sex Assault Charge

September 24, 2011

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A Hamilton Catholic priest has been charged with sexual assault.

Father Jose Silva, 34, a popular parish priest at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church on Park Street North for the past two years, was arrested by Hamilton police Thursday afternoon.

Silva, who appeared in Hamilton court for a bail hearing Friday morning, is charged with sexual assault following a complaint about an incident during a festival held in the church courtyard Sept. 18.

He was released on a surety and will return to court Oct. 13.

Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings said the investigation and arrest followed a complaint by an 18-year-old youth playing in a band booked at a festival in the church courtyard. At about 6:30 p.m., while the band was on a break, Collings said a priest struck up a conversation about him playing guitar. The young man was invited to the priest's residence on the parish property, to see a guitar.

“Out of respect, the man went with the priest,” Collings said. “While he was with the priest, it is alleged he was sexually assaulted.”

Collings said the young man was able to leave unharmed and immediately called police.

Silva was arrested while on duty, but away from the church.

Collings said police are not aware of any other complaints, but the incident is still under investigation.

José Gildásico de Sousa Silva, a native of Brazil, has worked in Hamilton since October 2009. He was ordained on Feb. 8, 2003.

The Diocese of Hamilton is “shocked and distressed,” to learn of the arrest, said Monsignor Vincent Kerr, chancellor of the diocese.

“He is a young, popular and enthusiastic priest who has come to us from Brazil to serve the needs of the Portuguese-speaking community in the City of Hamilton,” Kerr said in a statement. Silva came to Hamilton with “appropriate recommendations” from his Brazilian bishop and “there have been only compliments about the quality of his work during his time with us.”

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