When Father Fidencio Silva first appeared at Oxnard's Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in 1979, he was young, good-looking and charismatic.
He was apparently also far too chummy with some of the 60 altar boys in his charge. He would eventually be accused of molesting more than two dozen of them.
"What it's done to me, it goes deep into my core," one of his victims, Manuel Vega, 49, of Oxnard, said in a recent interview. "I still believe in something good.
"I (just) don't know if I believe in God."
Vega said he was molested by Silva from age 10 to 15.
Personnel documents were released by an attorney as part of the court record in a lawsuit against the archdiocese of Los Angeles this month.
But while the court documents contained details of the priest's Mexican roots and training at St. Johns Major Seminary in Camarillo, there was no mention of molestation.
There was no mention of 25 felony criminal charges filed against Silva for the molestation of eight boys, ages 11 to 15, between 1979 and 1986. The case was dismissed because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
There was no mention of the 29 altar boys who had served with Silva and filed a sexual abuse civil suit, or their financial settlements from the archdiocese.
And no mention of how Silva fled to Mexicom avoiding prosecution. The priest has denied the allegations, and has reportedly been serving in a religious order there.
A decade ago, Vega undertook an eight-day Holy Week fast and curbside protest to urge Cardinal Roger M. Mahony to release all the archdiocese's internal files on priests.
Vega, a decorated U.S. Marine and former Oxnard policeman, was a leader in urging Silva's prosecution.
He said the priest, who spoke English in a Spanish-speaking community, was loved and trusted by young people and their parents.
Vega descirbed how Silva asked the boys to model nude for him for a painting of the Risen Christ. Then the molestations began, Vega said, in the rectory and the sacristy behind the altar, which Silva photographed.
While Vega never lost faith, he said the sexual abuse severed his cultural connection, as a Mexican-American, to the Catholic Church.
"The cultural identification a lot of Mexicans have with the Catholic religion," he said. "It's destroyed all that."