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San Fernando Valley Priest Removed For Suspected Inappropriate Conduct

ENCINO (CBSLA) — A priest from a congregation in the San Fernando Valley has been removed after reports of inappropriate conduct.

"Surprising because the father was a really good man."

That was the reaction from Giovanni Rios after he learned Father Juan Cano, who had served as an associate pastor at Our Lady of Grace Church in Encino.

In a statement from the L.A. Archdiocese, Cano "was removed from ministry and placed on administrative leave as a result of reports of inappropriate contact by Father Cano involving several females in the parish, including one who is a current minor."

Rios says parishioners learned about the move at the end of Sunday Mass.

"It was really general. It wasn't like detailed.  But you know, something happened with children or something like that," Rios said.

Another parishioner tipped off Joelle Casteix, who's a regional director for the group SNAP, which is the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

She says the Church's website included Father Cano's picture Monday morning. But after she contacted the church to ask questions, she says he was scrubbed from the website about an hour later.

"What does this say?  This says they're trying to hide him.  And you can't do that.  You can't hide someone," Casteix said.

Casteix says taking down Cano's picture is like an admission of guilt.

In addition, she says the church isn't transparent when it only informed parishioners verbally instead of in a written statement.

A reliable way of getting information to survivors is to put a message on the website saying if this man hurt you, call the police.  If you witnessed this man doing something wrong call the police," Casteix said.

"I don't think like everybody goes to online and check the website.  Maybe it's better for people to hear about it when they come in mass.  I feel the word will get out better like that," Rios said.

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