A former pastor of St. Martin of Tours Church in Oxford Circle was arrested Monday and charged with rape, sexual abuse and corruption of minors, police announced Tuesday.
The Rev. Armand Garcia, 49, was removed from St. Martin’s nearly a year ago and placed on administrative leave after police received a report of misconduct with a child, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Police said Monday’s charges stem from an incident that occurred in August 2014 on the 800 block of Cathedral Road in Roxborough. It’s the site of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, the parish Garcia served at before being assigned to St. Martin’s.
“I would urge everyone to remember that he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Garcia’s attorney, William Brennan, told the Northeast Times.
Garcia also was assigned to St. Katherine of Siena Parish in Torresdale in 2009 and 2010, according to the Archdiocese. He was transferred to St. Martin’s in 2017 and stayed there until being placed on leave last March.
“These charges are serious and disturbing,” a statement from the Archdiocese said. “The Archdiocese is cooperating fully with law enforcement regarding this matter and remains fervently committed to preventing child abuse as well as protecting the children and young people entrusted to its care.”
The statement said Garcia’s conduct allegedly occurred in the period between 2014 and 2017.
The Archdiocese said it will be sharing information about Garcia’s arrest with parishioners at St. Martin’s and Immaculate Heart. Counselors will be available when the announcements are made, according to the statement.
Garcia’s priestly duties have been restricted since he was placed on leave last year, the Archdiocese said. Church officials have been cooperating with authorities involved in the criminal investigation over the past year, according to the statement.
The Archdiocese said it did not receive any allegations against Garcia until last March. He was ordained in 2005.
Garcia was living in a private residence on the 500 block of Jefferson Street in North Philadelphia when he was arrested.
A judge set bail for Garcia at $250,000, and he posted 10 percent of the total the day he was arrested, according to court records. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on March 14. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org