Judge Rules that Parish Cannot Be Trusted To Watch Over Accused Abusive Priest, SNAP Responds

An accused DC priest will remain in jail awaiting trial despite a Pennsylvania colleague's pleas on his behalf. We applaud the DC judge who denied this request.

According to reports, the attorney for Fr. Urbano Vazquez argued that he should be allowed to return to the “secluded parish outside of Pittsburgh where he had been staying” and said that Fr.  Vazquez would be watched over by other priests living at the parish. The lawyer called one of these priests, Fr. Frank Yacobi, to so testify for the defense. Yet the judge assigned to the case ruled otherwise, harshly criticizing the request by saying “to release [Fr. Vazquez] now back in the supervision of colleagues who had been informed of such alleged behavior is troubling to me."

We applaud this move by D.C. Superior Court Judge Juliet McKenna. Given that church officials were allegedly notified of the accusations against Fr. Vazquez in 2015, it stands to reason that they are as incapable of watching over Fr. Vazquez now as they were in adequately responding to the allegations then.

The accusations were first reported to the DC parish in 2015, yet Fr. Vazquez was allowed to remain in his position – and abuse at least one other child as well as an adult parishioner. This is extremely disturbing after the promises made by the USCCB in 2002.  We hope that law enforcement authorities in the district will investigate this case more deeply, particularly in terms of who knew what and when they knew it. We also hope that Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the Capuchin  Order will explain how this happened and what steps they will take now to find other victims in the parishes where Fr. Vazquez worked.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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