Youth minister accused of giving teen alcohol

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A former youth minister in Spring Valley was arraigned yesterday and charged with two misdemeanors for allegedly giving alcohol to a teenager.

Police say Earnest Zalamea has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and unlawfully providing alcohol to a 16-year-old from the St. Joseph's parish. He was released on $200 bail and ordered to avoid contact with the victim.

Robert Hoaston, a former priest and now an advocate who assists victims of church abuse, tells News 12 that he feels like there is too much secrecy surrounding this case, and he doesn't like how the church is handling it. 

"If he's giving alcohol to minors, he is a predator," Hoaston says. "When the church doesn't talk about things, like this guy getting fired, there is trouble."

The Rev. Levelt Germain, a priest at St. Joseph's parish, says Zalamea was fired for making unapproved financial decisions in July. He says he did not know about the alleged alcohol incident until detectives contacted him well after the firing. Police arrested Zalamea in August and his arraignment happened Wednesday.

Germain says the incident with the minor happened off of church property and that Zalamea kept in contact with the minor after he was let go.

"There's an ongoing investigation, we are in cooperation with authorities, and we'll wait for the investigation to say more," Germain says.

The archdiocese released a statement saying that Zalamea was removed from church activities, and that the church is cooperating with the authorities.

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