- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A state court has found that a Roman Catholic priest fathered a 20-year-old woman whose mother says she had been sexually abused by him.

Jacqueline Milla, 20, said her mother had always suspected that the Rev. Valentine Tugade was the father but never had proof until a court-ordered paternity test.

“He may have been called ‘father’ in church, but he was no father to me,” Miss Milla said at a news conference Monday outside Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral.

Father Tugade’s attorney, Peter Manning, did not return a phone call seeking comment on the ruling, which was issued Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Miss Milla’s mother, Rita Milla, said the ruling supports her longtime contention that she had been sexually abused by Father Tugade and six other priests when she was a teenager in the 1980s in the Los Angeles area.

“Although my family and friends always believed me, this absolute proof should lay to rest any doubt that may have existed before in anyone’s mind that I had a baby from a Catholic priest,” Rita Milla said at the news conference.

The Millas’ attorney, Gloria Allred, described the paternity test as 99.99 percent accurate and said it would be used in a civil suit by Rita Milla against the archdiocese and several priests. The test cannot be used to sue Father Tugade for child support, she said.

Church spokeswoman Carolina Guevara said the church was offering Miss Milla and her mother “support and prayers.”

“We hope this information provides healing,” Miss Guevara said.

The case drew headlines last year when Jacqueline Milla announced that she believed her father was a priest and asked the church to help her identify him so that she could “know what he looks like.”

Her mother, who says she once planned to become a nun, has maintained that she was molested by the Rev. Santiago Tamayo at St. Philomena Church in Carson when she was 16. After she turned 18, Rita Milla said, she had sexual intercourse with Father Tamayo, who introduced her to six other priests, with whom she also had sex.

In 1991, Father Tamayo admitted he had sex with her and publicly apologized. He died in 1999.

Last year, Miss Allred released documents showing that the church had urged Father Tamayo to stay in the Philippines after Jacqueline Milla’s birth and had mailed checks to him there. In three letters, church officials advised him not to reveal the source of the payments “unless requested under oath,” noting that he was “liable for personal suits arising out of your past actions.”

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