Details emerge in molestation case

Deposition reveals information about Miguel Cala

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

MIAMI - More details are emerging about what church leaders at the Archdiocese of Miami knew about Miguel Cala and his expressed sexual desire for children before it gave him a job at a Catholic school working with children.

A priest also revealed how Cala was recruited to South Florida by a Miami priest who would later be accused of molesting children and then reassigned to yet another priest also accused of child abuse.

From 1996-2006, the Rev. Pedro Corces was the vocations director for the Archdiocese of Miami. His job was to recruit people into the priesthood and screen applicants. He is currently a pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church in Miami Shores.

What he said during his deposition with the attorney for the alleged victims of Cala, Jeff Herman, seems to suggest the Archdiocese violated its own internal policy when it came to information Cala said he shared with leaders while a seminarian.

In fact, Corces said it would have been the obligation of the person Cala claimed to have spoken to, to share that information with a team of people in order to protect children. 

After leaving the seminary because leaders told him he needed counseling to deal with anxiety, church leaders offered him a job teaching music at St. Andrews in Coral Springs.

While a music teacher at the Catholic school, Cala is accused of molesting four boys during private lessons at their homes. He's admitted to touching children inappropriately to a Broward Sheriff's Office detective and to the father of one of the alleged victims.

Cala also said he confessed about being a pedophile to several priests before church leaders gave him the job at the school.

In a taped conversation at Broward County Jail with the father of one of the boys he's accused of molesting, he explained, "I confessed so many times to so many priests. I used to confess five times a day, a week."

He also said he confessed to the spiritual director at the seminary, who, Corces explained in his deposition, shares information received from students with the seminary formation team.

In the deposition, Herman asked: "The spiritual director is hearing confessions from the seminarians. And so he's learning things about the seminarians that may make them appropriate or inappropriate to continue in the priesthood?"

Corces: "Yes, as any confessor."

Herman: "Right. In this case, so that he's able to share his insights without disclosing confessions?"

Corces: "Without disclosing the content of confession, right."

Then Herman asked Corces, in general terms, what a spiritual director should do if he hears a student confessing to being a pedophile.

Herman: "If the spiritual director heard a confession that one of the seminarian students was having urges to have sex with children, is that something you would expect the spiritual director to give insight into the seminary formation team?"

Corces: "Yes, OK, as strong as he could without breaking the seal of confession."

Herman: "OK, that, would that go on then, too, if the spiritual director was aware that a seminarian student had urges to have sex with children and he expressed his insight without, you know, revealing the details of the confession, would you expect that also to -- to continue to give insight to make sure that that seminarian did not go on to work with children at a Catholic school?"

Corces: "We would do everything possible to avoid that."

Herman: "So that's a yes?"

Corces: "Yes."

Herman: "OK, so do you believe that if a seminarian was going to confession at the seminary, sometimes five times a day, because of urges to have sex with children that the -- the spiritual director would need to take some kind of action to protect children?"

Corces: "Yes, he would try to do everything possible."

Herman: "Why?"

Corces: "Because it's unethical, it is dangerous. There are people at risk."

Herman: "And that would make him -- do you believe he'd be at risk not only as a priest but also then to go on and work at a school?"

Corces: "Yes."

Here's what Cala told a Broward Sheriff's Office detective about the abuse when he confessed to some of the crimes two years ago.

Cala: "It's started hugging him and that's what happened when I touched him."

Detective: "OK, when you say you touched him inappropriately..."

Cala: "Yes."

Detective: "That can mean a lot of things. What does that mean?"

Cala: "I touch him um his penis."

Cala: "I was, I was a ticking bomb. I knew it was going to blow sooner or later."

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami has made it clear it does not plan to comment on this matter due to pending litigation. The Archdiocese also reiterated what it has said before, that it ran a background check on Cala and nothing came up.

Herman finds that particular point ludicrous.

All it shows, he said, is that Herman was never arrested before, but that doesn't mean there weren't red flags which several church leaders were well aware of before placing him at the school.

Herman described it as playing "Russian roulette" with the safety of the kids, that at some point leaders had to have known he was going to victimize a child since he had repeatedly told them he was a pedophile.

Corces also explained how Cala was recruited to Miami from Venezula by Ricardo Castellanos, a former priest for the Archdiocese of Miami accused of molesting children.

Herman: "Is he still a priest?"

Corces: "My understanding is that he's not a priest today."

Herman: "What's your understanding of why he is not a priest?"

Corces: "Because there were some accusations against him."

Herman: "What kind of accusations?"

Corces: "Sexual abuse."

After working with Castellanos, Corces explained how Cala is then sent to work with another Archidocese of Miami priest who would later also be accused of molesting kids, the Rev. Gustavo Miyares at Immaculate Conception in Hialeah.

Herman: "OK, is Father Miyares -- what's he doing today? Is he still a priest?"

Corces: "No, he's not a priest."

Herman: "Why not?"

Corces: "Same situation, accusations of child abuse."

Herman: "And as you know in this case, Miguel Cala has been accused of --"

Corces: "Yes."

Herman: "-- child abuse."

Corces: "Yes."

Herman: "Yeah. Do you find it odd that he worked with --"

Corces: "Very sad coincidence, very sad coincidence."

Herman: "What do you make of that, just a coincidence?"

Corces: "Yeah."

Herman: "Have you ever thought about that?"

Corces: "Yes, I have."

Herman: "And what do you think?"

Corces: "Again, sad coincidence, because I had no idea that these things were going to happen later."

Herman: "Were you aware that there were allegations made against Father Castellanos back in the '80s?"
Corces: "No."
Corces said he never had any personal knowledge that Cala claimed to be a pedophile.

Herman: "Did anyone ever make you aware that Miguel Cala had urges to have sex with children?"

Corces: "No."

Church leaders had recommended Cala get counseling for "anxiety."

Corces explained some of Cala's behavior at the seminary.

"He was very aggressive. He had issues with authority, difficult person to live with," he said.

Herman said in 1999, a psychologist at "intake" said, "It would be helpful for Mr. Cala to engage in counseling to review family of origin issues and the apparent impact this is having on cognitive processes."

Corces said, "I remember Miguel came from a family of a single mother. And that was always -- obviously affected his self-image, I guess."

Herman said the psychological report on Cala also found that "there may be an inability to handle stressors particularly of an interpersonal nature. The possibility of poorly expressed anger and anxiety is manifested throughout."

Herman: "Given that Miguel Cala had some psychological issues that required him to go to counseling and ultimately not become a priest, what would -- would it be safer choice before he worked at a school to find out what the root of his anxiety was?"

Corces: "No, I don't. If I would have suspect that it was something as serious as what came up later on, I definitely would have done something. But I didn't know what  it was."

Herman: "Yeah, I'm not saying you knew. I'm just saying for -- before Miguel Cala worked at the school after he left the seminary, do you believe it would be a safer choice for somebody at the Archdiocese to inquire as to the root of his anxiety?"

Corces: "Yeah."

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