Diocese of Fresno places priest on paid administrative leave

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A former Fresno and Visalia priest, Father Eric Swearingen, was placed on paid administrative leave as of June 5, according to a press release from the Diocese of Fresno.

Bishop Joseph Brennan made the announcement Monday, stating the action comes "in light of detailed information associated with a civil case dating back to 2009."

Father Swearingen has been on medical leave. He was accused back in 2002 of molesting Army Staff Sgt. Juan Rocha over three years while he worked in Bakersfield and at St. Alphonsus Church in Southwest Fresno.

Bishop Brennan did not provide any other information regarding Father Swearingen's leave.

Full statement from the Diocese of Fresno:

"My Dear People of God,

At this time, it is my responsibility as your Bishop to inform you that I have placed Father Eric Swearingen, Pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, on "Paid Administrative Leave" effective as of June 5, 2019.

I understand that this is very difficult information for you to receive; especially, at a time when Fr. Eric is very seriously ill. Please be assured that we will do all we can to support Fr. Eric and maintain his level of medical care without interruption. I am deeply concerned for his wellbeing.

This action was necessary in light of detailed information associated with a civil case dating back to 2009 that was brought to my attention following a file review. I am not able to offer further details.

I ask for your ongoing prayerful support of Fr. Eric and your continuing commitment to your beautiful faith community. Peace be with you.

In Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan, D.D.
Bishop, Diocese of Fresno "
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