WASHINGTON — A D.C. priest who was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a teenage girl in May of 2015 is also being accused of inappropriately touching two other girls during the same month and year, court documents say.
Urbano Vasquez, 46, was arrested on Wednesday on charges of second degree child sexual abuse.
According to court documents, a girl who is now 17 accused Vasquez of inappropriately touching her chest area after she and her family helped sell food and snow cones at a cookout at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. She was 13 at the time.
The second victim, who was 16 at the time of the alleged abuse, said Vasquez kissed her on the mouth while they were in the rectory dining area. The girl’s mother had left the room to prepare food, but walked back into the dining room as it happened. The mom confronted him, and Vasquez apologized, saying he didn’t know what came over him.
According to the documents, the girl’s mother reported the incident to the Sacred Heart Church twice — in both September 2015 and January 2016.
The third victim alleged Vasquez placed his hand on, and rubbed, her lower thigh as she was giving confession. She was 15 at the time.
Court documents state the provincial priest for the Capuchin Franciscan Order called the Child and Family Services hotline to report the allegations on Oct. 26, 2018.
The provincial priest works in Pittsburgh, but oversees the clergy working at Sacred Heart. While in Washington D.C., for an unrelated purpose, he learned of the first claim from the church’s head pastor, who presented him with a letter written in English. It was based on conversations in Spanish that the head pastor had with the first accuser’s parents.
The provincial priest told Vasquez about the allegations and barred him from working, preaching or attending Sacred Heart. Vasquez denied the claims against him.
Court documents also say the head pastor of Sacred Heart recalled being approached in a hallway around June 2015 or later — by Vasquez and the mother of his first accuser. The girl’s mother said her daughter disclosed that Vasquez touched or tried to touch her, but the girl ran away. Vasquez denied the allegation.
The church pastor offered to report the claims to the church’s Child Protection Associate, but the girl’s mother ‘“blew it off” and “did not want to do anything.” The priest told Sacred Heart’s Child Protection Associate about the allegations and that the family might come her way to report it, but the documents say the pastor wasn’t certain that report was ever filed with the Associate.
In a statement, Archdiocese of Washington said they learned about the first allegation from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin on Oct. 26, 2018 and that since then, other claims against Vasquez were reported.
D.C. Police were also notified, and Vasquez was arrested on Wednesday. He had been an associate pastor at Sacred Heart since 2014.
Fallout from these accusations rippled to others at Shrine of the Secret Heart Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Washington removed Sacred Heart’s head pastor, Father Moises Villalta, for failing to follow procedures for reporting abuse. The parish’s Child Protection Coordinator was placed on administrative leave.
It’s been a year riddled with scandal in the Archdiocese of Washington. Cardinal Donald Wuerl resigned in October amid a Pennsylvania grand jury report that he played a role in covering up clergy abuse in the Pittsburgh diocese. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who led the Washington diocese before Wuerl, was removed from ministry by the Archdiocese of New York after the finding that abuse claims over a period of years were “credible and substantiated.”
WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.
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