The dark saga of an ex-priest who fled New Jersey to Ecuador murder-suicide

A former New Jersey, priest Manuel Gallo Espinoza, fled from Union County to his native country of Ecuador after he admitted in 2015, to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old altar boy.

After the former priest was accused of raping the minor in the United States, he became a fugitive in Ecuador, where he spent years as an English teacher at the WEI English Institute, located in Loja, where he was a shareholder until he ended his life and that of his partner.

According to authorities, Manuel Gallo returned to Ecuador in 2003, after his rape victim —who has been identified as Max Rojas Ramírez—told a nun and another priest that he was sexually abused in the rectory of St. Mary’s church in Plainfield.

Manuel Gallo was never extradited to the United States to face multiple sexual assault charges but he left a statement denying the allegation of rape that essentially claimed he engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with the 15-year-old boy.

Now, Espinoza will never stand trial in New Jersey because he has died by suicide after shooting three other people, killing one of them.

According to media reports, 59-year-old Espinoza shot three of his partners at an English-language school in Ecuador on July 2 following a disagreement about management of the educational facility, killing Byron Aurelio Carreño Quezada and then himself.

While the Union County Prosecutor’s Office could not confirm the reports, multiple people who knew Espinoza verified photos of him that are circulating.

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