UPDATE: The sheriff’s office sent out this release on Thursday morning:
“On July 30, 2019, the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation into a possible pornography case. After receiving information from Aiken Department of Public Safety who were notified that Fr Raymond Flores, of Saint Mary’s Help of Christians, was having an online conversation with a juvenile on an adult social media application. Both individuals had exchanged photos of their genitals during their conversations. Investigators discovered that the juvenile, indicated that he was of age (18 yo) on “Grindr” where he and Flores began their dialog and exchanged photos. Flores, the juvenile, his family and the Diocese fully cooperated with investigators.
“This investigation revealed that there were no articulable or attainable evidence that would have risen beyond the initial complaint to the establishment of probable cause for criminal charges. Investigators presented their findings to the 2nd Circuit Solicitor’s Office as well as the SC Attorney General’s Office. The family of the victim did concur with the findings and expressed that they did not want to pursue any further investigation by ACSO investigators; as they had also previously stated to Aiken Department of Public Safety detectives.”
Father Raymond Flores, from St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church in Aiken, has been placed on administrative leave as a result of “behavior inappropriate of a priest”, a church press release says.
Authorities say a 17-year-old boy informed officers that he and Father Flores began an online conversation through an “adult social media application.”
“During the conversations, photographs were exchanged of genitalia between the victim and subject,” a sheriff’s report says.
The teen’s family told authorities that they did not with for further investigation, but the sheriff’s office is looking into it.
In a press release from the Diocese of Charleston, church officials point out that the inappropriate conduct did not involve the touching of a minor.
“Parish and diocesan officials followed all legal and appropriate protocols, including prompt notification of law enforcement officials; however, no charges have been filed by the authorities,” the press release said. “The safety of children and youth is a top priority at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church and School, and in all parishes and schools throughout the Diocese of Charleston. Additionally, diocesan officials provide appropriate resources to those involved in situations affecting or potentially affecting young people.”
During his suspension, Father Flores will not have the ability to perform priestly duties. Gregory Wilson has taken over priestly duties.
A church website includes a welcome letter from Father Flores, written when he joined St. Mary.
“I was born in the Bronx, grew up in Queens, and lived in Brooklyn,” Father Flores says. “My parents emigrated from the Philippines and worked hard to achieve the American dream and to provide a better future for their children. Seeing my parents’ self-sacrificial love was, I believe, the seed of my vocation, which began to grow when I went to college. Later, through my years in seminary and then ordained ministry, that call to love and serve as a priest has continued to grow.”