Updated: May 22, 2012 at 12:00 am
Father Charles Robert Manning, who has been the subject of a Colorado Springs police investigation since January, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.
The 77-year-old Manning was placed on administrative leave in early January, when the Diocese of Colorado Springs learned of the allegations against him.
Manning came to St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church, 8755 Scarborough Drive, in 2007 after serving in three Catholic parishes near St. Louis. In the past year, Manning’s health declined, parishioners said, and Manning had planned to retired in the late spring; his retirement was advanced to Feb. 23 because of the investigation.
In May 2010, Father Manning’s behavior caught the attention of a Colorado Springs woman whose family friend, 15 years old at the time, was close to Manning. The woman requested that her name not be used to protect the identity of the teenage boy.
The 15-year-old was her son’s friend, the woman told The Gazette in January after Manning had been suspended from his role as priest. The teen became interested in Catholicism and while attending Mass alone at St. Gabriel’s Father Manning had taken him under his wing. Initially, Manning paid the teen to clean his home, but eventually the woman began to see signs of what she described as a more controlling relationship.
She said that Manning behaved like a “jealous lover” around her son’s friend and would repeatedly text and call him, making demands to know his whereabouts when he was spending time with the woman’s family. The teen, whose single mother was frequently absent, often spent the night at his friends’ home, where Manning would call him, the woman said.
Manning’s attentions continued through last year, when the boy announced that he was moving out of state to escape Manning. Concerned by Manning’s behavior, the woman called police in October and reported her suspicions.
Manning was booked into the El Paso County jail on Tuesday; he posted a bond of $10,000 Tuesday night. The arrest affidavit, which includes details of evidence police obtain during an investigation, was sealed and not available to the public.
In a news release from the Diocese of Colorado Springs, officials requested understanding from their parishioners.
“A process has now begun,” the release reads. “As it goes forward, there should be compassion and care for the alleged victim. There should be a presumption of innocence for the priest.”
Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0261