The Washington Post has reported that police have arrested the leader of Secular Institute Stabat Mater located at 2001 Great Falls St, McLean, VA 22101.
On Wednesday, November 3, 2021, police arrested 75-year-old Antonio Perez-Alcala for charges including nine counts of aggravated sexual battery on a child. Perez-Alcala was a religious leader that held private sessions inside of his home in McLean.
One victim came forward alleging that they were sexually assaulted during private mentoring sessions that "took place in his bedroom." Police reported that during their investigation, they found another victim.
Perez-Alcala had worked or volunteered in many locations throughout Northern Virginia and with the Catholic Diocese of Arlington from 1994 to 2008. Some of these included Good Shepherd Parish, All Saints Parish, and St. Veronica Parish. The diocese and the police are investigating the possibility of additional victims.
Attorney contributor Kevin Biniazan is an experienced lawyer for sexual abuse in a religious organization licensed in Virginia. Kevin represents victims of sexual abuse and their families in civil lawsuits. Kevin shared some insight on the liability of churches for sexual assault within their congregation.
"Too often, sexual abuse occurs within religious organizations across the country. Many times this happens when sexual predators strategically gain employment within the church and exploit victims by abusing their trust. With all the numerous religious leaders who have recently been charged with the sexual abuse of congregation members, including children, it is important that churches maintain security in their church. Preventative measures can include conducting background checks and investigating any reports of misconduct."
"Protecting their congregation is not only highly recommended; it is also a legal responsibility that both the officials and those that make up the diocese must maintain. Many times, sexual assault incidents happen due to negligence of the religious organization. If a religious organization is found to be negligent in a case of sexual abuse, victims and their families have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the organization. Seeking advise from a lawyer experienced with cases of sexual abuse in a religious organization would be beneficial for the victim to explore their legal options."