Three teens allege abuse by Catholic priest in D.C., court papers say

By Michelle Boorstein, Marisa Lati and Peter Hermann, November 8, 2018, The Washington Post

A teenage girl who alleges a priest from a large Northwest Washington parish sexually abused her in 2015 when she was 13 told police it occurred in an office at the church rectory following a cookout, according to a court document filed Thursday.

The document, an application for an arrest warrant, also says that police interviewed two other people who were in their teens when they say they were sexually abused in 2015 and 2016 by the same priest. One incident occurred during confession, police said in the warrant.

D.C. police identified the priest as Urbano Vazquez, 46, who officiated at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, the hub for the region’s Latino Catholics. He is charged with a single count of second degree child sexual abuse, but additional charges could be filed later Thursday after the case is reviewed by the U.S. attorney’s office and the priest makes his initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court.

The charges come as the Catholic Church in the United States is in the midst of a sexual-abuse crisis, with several bishops losing their positions over the issue this year and the entire U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops scheduled to focus on it at its annual fall meeting next week.

The charge against Vazquez was filed after the provincial priest for the Capuchin order, who oversees the clergy at Sacred Heart, contacted the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency in October. The church received a letter from the teenager’s mother, written in Spanish, regarding the allegations.

D.C. police said they interviewed the teenager, who is now 17, on Oct. 29. She told detectives that the incident occurred in May 2015, when she and her family were at the church to sell food and snow cones for a picnic. Once they were done, she said, she retreated to the rectory office to wait for her mother, who was cleaning up. The teenager said she was playing on her iPod and sitting in a chair when the priest placed his hand on her chest and rubbed down from the shoulder, under her shirt and bra, the documents state.

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