Former Franklin priest indicted on sexual abuse of child charges, Diocese of Nashville says

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — A former Franklin priest who was removed from ministry has been indicted on multiple charges, including child sex abuse, according to the Catholic Diocese of Nashville.

In a statement released on Friday, Feb. 9, the diocese said the priest — identified as Rev. Juan Carlos Garcia — was an associate pastor at St. Philip Catholic Church in Franklin, but he was removed from his position and from active ministry while the Franklin Police Department led an investigation.

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According to the statement, police began to investigate Garcia after representatives with the Diocese of Nashville contacted authorities after a teen reported improper touching involving the priest.

Per protocols, St. Philips made a report to the Tennessee Department of Children Services (DCS) as an outside investigator investigated the report. While the investigation was ongoing, the Diocese of Nashville Review Board promptly convened and Garcia was removed from active ministry.

According to church officials, the investigative report and all available information were provided to law enforcement on the diocese’s own initiative.

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On Friday, the diocese announced Garcia had been indicted by the Williamson County grand jury 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.

Church officials reported the priest is expected to turn himself in to the Williamson County Jail for booking.

Garcia was ordained to priesthood in 2020, and was assigned to St. Phillip in 2022, according to the diocese. He was also previously an associate pastor at St. Rose of Lima in Murfreesboro before being assigned to St. Phillip.

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“The diocese reiterates that any person who reasonably suspects that child sexual abuse has occurred is required by law to make a report to civil authorities,” Friday’s statement said. “If the suspicion of abuse involves an employee or volunteer in a ministry or parish, a report should also be made to the Diocese of Nashville Safe Environment Coordinator.”

Anyone with additional information regarding the priest is urged to contact Detective Andrea Clark with the Franklin Police Department at 615-476-2809.

To learn more about reporting abuse and the victim assistance program, visit the diocese’s website.

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