Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 10:45 PM Updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 10:14 AM
It was close to midnight Sunday when Woodburn resident James Curths saw the 12-year-old boy running down the street toward him. Curths said the child, panting and out of breath, begged for help, telling him a man was chasing him.
Moments later, a man rounded the corner wearing only underwear. He stood a short distance away, trying to wave the boy over as Curths and his sister-in-law prepared to drive the boy to relatives.
“He was staring at us,” said Heather Rodriguez, 28, Curths’ sister-in-law, who was also outside. “Then he stood there with his hands on his hips like, ‘You’re really not going to give him to me?’”
Rodriguez and Curths, 35, told the man they were calling the police. Only then, they said, did the man jog away.
The man who chased after the boy that night, Woodburn police say, was the Rev. Angel Armando Perez, the parish priest at St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn. Early Monday, the boy gave police a detailed account of the alleged sex abuse he said occurred at Perez’s home, leading to Perez’s arrest later Monday.
Court records released Tuesday detail the alleged abuse and the pastor’s actions after the incident.
“Father Angel touched me”
Perez was arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court on Tuesday, appearing via video from Marion County Jail, wearing a black V-neck top with his hands secured in front of his waist. He faced allegations of first-degree sexual abuse, abuse of a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
The Salem boy told authorities that Perez had asked his parents a few days earlier if he could take him on a trip to the mountains. He and his family attended a community church event Sunday night, and the 12-year-old went with Perez that night to the pastor’s house, a grayish-green home less than 200 paces from the church’s front door.
The boy told police Perez gave him a beer and they watched a movie. The boy told investigators that an air mattress was set up on the living room floor for him to sleep on. He said he fell asleep on the mattress, the affidavit said.
Later, the boy said, he was “woken up by a couple of flashes.”
He said that when he opened his eyes, he saw Perez next to the air mattress, with one hand on the boy’s genitals and one hand holding a cellphone. The boy discovered his underwear and shorts lowered to his knees, while Perez was dressed in underwear and a T-shirt, the boy told police.
The boy said he went to pack up his things when Perez went upstairs. “Father Angel called to him saying, ‘Come back to bed,’” the police affidavit says.
Instead, the boy said goodbye and ran off.
Curths, who was hosting a barbecue when the boy showed up outside his house, said he looked distraught. “He just seemed really terrified, and he was almost in tears,” Curths said.
When the pastor caught up to the boy outside Curths’ house, wearing what Curths and his sister-in-law said looked like a burgundy Speedo swimsuit, the boy hid behind Curths.
“He was scared to death,” Curths said. “It was like someone running from a ghost.”