Los Banos police arrest priest on child porn charge

EMBED </>More Videos

Authorities have arrested the former pastor of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Los Banos on a child porn charge. He has been identified as Rev. Robert E. Gamel.

A Roman Catholic Priest, is accused of possessing a naked photo of a Los Banos teenager. Reverend Robert Gamel was arrested for having a sexually explicit photo, following a month's long investigation. Investigators say it took them nearly a year to press charges against Gamel because they wanted to make sure he didn't have any other victims.

Reverend Robert Gamel was a trusted priest for 25 years. Now some members of his congregation are scared he's a child predator.

"If he had done that to my son I don't know what I would have done," said Rocio Esparza. She lives right next door to St. Joseph Church. It's where Gamel served as a pastor until detectives started investigating him. Gamel baptized her 3-year-old son.

"The parents with the community, they are not happy either and they feel this shouldn't happen," said Esperaza.

She's since moved churches because of a lingering mistrust she says she can't shake. Even though Gamel was placed on administrative leave and hasn't worked here since August. Chief Gary Brizzee of the Los Banos Police Department said detectives got involved when parents accused Gamel of inappropriate behavior with their teenage son.

"Legally we'll come after you if we can. And otherwise we'll try and take steps to remove you from a position of power if you violate that trust," said Chief Brizzee.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno sent out a statement and Most Reverend Armando Ochoa said in part: "My concern is for the wellbeing of all who are impacted; the youth, the family, the parish and school community, his brother priests, and for Fr. Gamel. The days ahead will be difficult for many. I ask the faithful to hold this matter of concern in prayer so that healing may begin."

If convicted, Gamel faces three years in a state prison or county jail and will have to register as a sex offender.



Related Topics:
crimetrackerpriest sex abusesex crimesex crimeschild pornographyarrestmerced countyLos Banos
(Copyright ©2018 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.)