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Laguna Hills bishop arrested for lewd acts with boy

September 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A bishop of a Laguna Hills church was arrested on suspicion of molesting the young son of a church member. Investigators say there could be other young victims and that Bishop Oscar Perez used his church to meet young boys. Perez rented space at the Laguna Hills church to hold services.

Perez calls himself a bishop of the Old Catholic Church, which has no connection to the Roman Catholic Church.

Officials say Perez would rent space at St. George's Episcopal Church in Laguna Hills so he could hold his own mass on Sunday afternoons, and that's how he met his alleged victims.

Perez was arrested Saturday at his home in Lake Forest, where authorities allege he took part in lewd acts with a boy under 12 years old. He was held on $100,000 bail.

"The bishop stated he needed some help at his residence. The congregation member sent her son over to help the bishop," said Orange County Sheriff's Department Spokesman Jim Amormino.

Investigators say the boy told his mother, who reported the alleged abuse to authorities. The incidents allegedly happened in August. Authorities say after interviewing the 68-year-old Perez, they made another discovery.

"Investigators were able to identify a possible second victim, a boy under the age of 13," said Amormino.

Authorities allege Perez met his victims through his congregation, called the Old Catholic Church, separate from the Roman Catholic Church.

For the past two years, officials say, Perez has rented space from St. George's Episcopal Church in Laguna Hills, where he performed Sunday afternoon mass.

Authorities are concerned about other potential victims, given Perez's position in the community.

"I think it's very serious, I think it's very disgusting when a family trusts a bishop, priest or anyone placed in a position of trust and he violates it in the worst possible way," said Amormino.

If you have information related to the case, contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department t (866) TIP-OCSD.