Officials: No criminal charges against Aiken priest following investigation

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- No charges will be filed against a priest in Aiken County after investigators said he sent photos of his genitalia to a juvenile.

According to the sheriff's office, they received word of the case from the Aiken Department of Public Safety and began to look into it.

Sheriff's investigators said Raymond Flores of Saint Mary's Help of Christians and a juvenile were having a conversation on Grindr, an adult dating application.

"Both individuals had exchanged photos of their genitals during their conversations. Investigators discovered that the juvenile, indicated that he was of age (18 yo) on 'Grindr' where he and Flores began their dialog and exchanged photos," the statement said.

Deputies say Flores, the juvenile and his family, and the Diocese fully cooperated with the investigation.

As a result, the sheriff's office says "there were no articulable or attainable evidence that would have risen beyond the initial complaint to the establishment of probable cause for criminal charges."

The juvenile's family also agreed and said they didn't wish to pursue any further investigation against Flores by the sheriff's office or DPS.

Flores, however, remains on administrative leave from the Diocese.

The Diocese released a statement on the matter, revealing further details surrounding him.

According to the Diocese, Flores had an "inappropriate consensual relationship" with an adult woman, which was a violation of his vow of celibacy, several years prior to him coming to the Diocese.

The Brooklyn Diocese clarified the timeline further, saying Flores had been an ordained priest starting in June 2013. From there, according to the Brooklyn Diocese, Flores was temporarily removed from ministry from November 2014 to September 2018.

"After the years of counseling and discernment, Fr. Flores expressed to us that he wished to return to active ministry, which required that he accept celibacy," the Brooklyn Diocese said in a statement.

The Diocese says Flores received counseling as a result of that and "recommitted himself to his vow of celibacy" before he was allowed to minister again.

The Diocese also stressed there had never been any allegations of sexual abuse against Flores.

"As stated by the Aiken County Sheriff's Office in its press release of this morning, no charges will be brought against Father Flores due to the fact that he had every reason to believe his online communications were with an adult," the statement said.

"Although Father's past conduct is clearly inappropriate for a priest, albeit not unlawful, it is now an internal personnel matter."

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