Priest’s shocking confession: Why he may never face justice
If charges are filed against a former New Jersey priest who reportedly confessed to engaging in sexual conduct with a teenage boy over a decade ago, it can't be guaranteed that he'll be returned to American soil to face those charges.
Through online comments and in talks with NJ Advance Media, Rev. Manuel Gallo Espinoza admitted to making a "mistake once" in the rectory of a Plainfield church in 2003. That confession, however, came from Ecuador, the 51-year-old's native country, where he's been since February 2014.
The report noted the Union County Prosecutor's Office reopened its investigation into the priest, who had been accused by the victim days after the alleged incident. Charges have not been filed yet, despite the new information.
In a conversation with New Jersey 101.5 FM, criminal defense attorney Howard W. Bailey in Newark said even if officials do decide to charge Gallo Espinoza, it puts no pressure on his home country to return him to the U.S.
The two countries share an extradition treaty, but it's up to each country how they interpret it.
"It's up to that other country to decide whether or not they're going to be sending the individual back," Bailey said. "I believe that Ecuador does not have a very high percentage of cases that they send people back on."
According to an analysis by Slate, an online magazine of news and politics, Ecuador extradited not one person to the U.S. between 2003 and 2011, compared to 1,201 from Columbia and 28 from Peru.
If charges are filed and the extradition process is launched, Bailey suggested it could take months before Ecuadorian officials reach a decision.
Another obstacle, he said, is proving that the person who made the alleged confession is, in fact, the person in question from 2003.
NJ Advance Media said Gallo Espinoza proved his identity by providing his Social Security number and sharing little-known details about the accuser and his family.