Philadelphia priest under investigation for alleged misconduct with a minor

The pastor of a Northeast Philadelphia Catholic parish has been placed on administrative leave while police investigate a report of alleged misconduct with a minor, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said Sunday.

The Rev. Armand Garcia, formerly of St. Martin of Tours parish in the city’s Summerdale section, was removed from his post March 16 – the same day that investigators executed a search warrant on the parish rectory, said Kenneth Gavin, chief communications officer for the archdiocese.

Parishioners were informed of Garcia’s leave and the circumstances behind it last weekend. But details of the investigation remained sparse more than a week later.

A police spokeswoman declined to comment Sunday. Gavin said only that the archdiocese was cooperating fully with the probe and that no charges had been filed.

Garcia’s lawyer William J. Brennan – who has previously represented archdiocesan priests accused of child sex abuse — also declined to discuss the case in detail.

“I will say that I’ve been in touch with the authorities on Father Garcia’s behalf,” he said. “He has an unblemished record, from my understanding, and he’s a good man.”

Garcia, 48, was ordained in 2005, two years after a damning report by a Philadelphia grand jury had accused dozens of current and former area priests of sexual misconduct with children.

Gavin said that Garcia had cleared all criminal background checks and a search for past child abuse allegations. He had completed a “safe environment” training program made mandatory for all priests, parish teachers, and volunteers in the wake of the grand jury report.

He was named pastor at St. Martin of Tours in November after being transferred there earlier last year from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Roxborough, where he was parochial vicar.

As of late Sunday, Garcia’s name had been removed from the St. Martin of Tours parish website and that of the National Association of Filipino Priests, an organization with which he had served as part of its leadership council.