A Former Maui Deacon Is Sentenced to Prison

By Gina Mangieri
KHON [Hawaii]
July 20, 2006

The former clergyman will spend time in prison, then house arrest, followed by a lengthy probation. the prosecuting attorney said other children should not be afraid to come forward if they're victims of similar crimes.

69-year-old James Gonsalves will spend the next year behind bars, following his guilty plea on 62 counts of sex assault involving a boy.

"Not only the life of this child, the family has suffered, the community has suffered, the people of the church have suffered -- all because of your actions, this whole web of trust has been shattered," says Maui County Judge Rhonda Loo.

The teenage victim endured three years of sexual abuse both at St. Ann's parish property in Waihee, and at the former deacon's home.

"The victim in this family, and especially the victim in this case, was and is courageous for coming forward," says Robert Dean Rivera, Maui Prosecuting attorney.

But the prosecutor admonished the extensive public support the former deacon had received. he said attacks on the young victim's character could deter other kids from coming forward.

"They may not be able to rely on the adults to protect them, and that is the message that should not be sent out to our children," says Rivera.

The Catholic church has faced a string of settlements and reassignments involving allegations of abuse by clergy at other churches in Hawaii and across the mainland. The diocese says it wants children to come forth if they've been victimized.

"If someone has a concern about abuse, we encourage them to come forward, and most especially if the abuse involves a child who is currently a child," says Father Gary Secor, Diocese of Honolulu.

Gonsalves will undergo court-ordered sex-offender treatment and pay a small victim compensation fee. He has also established a separate trust for the victim's education and treatment. He has not provided a public apology.

"An apology can take many forms, in this case Mr. Gonsalves has entered a guilty plea to each of the charges," says defense attorney, Phil Lowenthal.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.