REDWOOD CITY — A sex offender who has posed as a Catholic clergyman was booked into San Mateo County jail Monday morning on 18 counts of child molestation, officials said.
Anthony Falco, 72, who was known as "Father Tom" to the Daly City family who hosted him, is accused of molesting a 14-year-old boy who lives in the St. Francis Heights neighborhood home, Daly City police Lt. Jay Morena said.
Police arrested Falco on Thursday, but he was taken to Stanford Hospital after he told officers that he was experiencing chest pains. Doctors allowed him to leave the hospital Monday, Morena said.
Falco tricked local Catholics more than a decade ago when he told parishioners at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Capitola that he was a clergyman from New York City, authorities said. He was later convicted of molesting an Aptos teen during a church trip to Bosnia and served prison time.
After his release, Falco relocated to St. Martin, Minn. There, he again pulled off his phony friar ruse, duping parishioners at a Catholic church in St. Cloud until he was hospitalized under his real name and the truth about his past surfaced, authorities said.
Prosecutors will decide today whether to charge Falco with molestation, said chief deputy district attorney Steve Wagstaffe. He may also face one count of failing to register as sex offender in California, he said.
Police began investigating Falco after receiving a tip that he was sex offender who had not registered with local police, as required by law. At the same time, police from Minnesota were looking for Falco because he had failed to appear in court there for not completing sex offender registration, officials said. Authorities in Minnesota have declined to have Falco extradited.
Falco had been staying with the Daly City family for several months, Morena said. He came to visit the victim's grandmother, whom he knew from his years in New York. Over the past several years, Falco has stayed with the family for periods of two or three months, Morena said.
While a detective was talking to Falco at the family's home last week, he noticed a boy lived there. The detective asked the boy if he had been molested, and while he initially denied any improper conduct, he later told police something had happened, Morena said.
Santa Cruz resident Clay Brasuell Jr., 26, was molested by Falco during the 1999 missionary trip to Bosnia and said the episode still haunts him. Years later, with the help of therapy and his family, Brasuell said he lives a relatively normal life.
"Don't give this demon in a priest's uniform the satisfaction of stealing your life," he said, offering advice to the Daly City boy. "He has already taken enough."