Grand jury indicts Tennessee priest on multiple sexual abuse charges

St. Philip Catholic Church is located in Franklin, Tennessee.
St. Philip Catholic Church is located in Franklin, Tennessee. | Screenshot: Google Maps

A Tennessee Catholic priest has been indicted for inappropriately touching a child and faces several years behind bars if convicted. 

In a statement published Friday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, announced that Rev. Juan Carlos Garcia, who formerly served as an associate pastor at St. Philip Catholic Church in Franklin, was indicted by a grand jury on several counts related to sexual abuse and battery.

Specifically, a Williamson County grand jury indicted Garcia on one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, one count of aggravated sexual battery, four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and two counts of sexual battery. 

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Garcia, ordained to the priesthood in 2020, was assigned to his position at St. Philip in July 2022 after working at St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro for two years. The diocese became aware of Garcia's alleged wrongdoing in early November when parish officials informed the Diocese of Nashville's Safe Environment Office that a teenager who attends church at St. Philip accused the priest of touching him inappropriately.

Following this allegation, the diocese and St. Philip representatives submitted a report to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. Garcia was removed from his position after the Franklin Police Department began investigating his alleged misconduct.

Garcia has been booked in the jail with a bond of $2 million, according to The Tennesseean.

Aggravated sexual battery is a Class B felony in Tennessee, while sexual battery by an authority figure is a Class C felony, and sexual battery constitutes a Class E felony. According to Tennessee law, those found guilty of Class B felonies face between eight and 30 years in prison, while Class C felonies carry penalties of between three and 15 years. Class E felonies come with penalties of between one and six years behind bars. 

Punishment for continuous sexual abuse of a child varies based on the number of offenses committed but can amount to a Class C felony, Class B felony or a Class A felony. Class A felonies come with prison sentences ranging from 15 to 60 years behind bars. 

The public became aware of the situation involving Garcia last month after the diocese released a statement indicating that the priest had been removed from his post at St. Philip and public ministry as the police investigation continues.

The diocese said it has retained a former FBI agent as an outside investigator to investigate the report. It signaled that the case would be sent to the Williamson County District Attorney's Office for further review.  

According to the Diocese of Nashville's Safe Environment Office, more than two dozen priests and brothers who served in the diocese at one point have been accused of abusing minors. The list of accused priests, updated in November 2021, includes several deceased priests and none of the men included on the list are currently in ministry.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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