DC priest rejects plea offer, maintains innocence in sex abuse of parishioners

The Rev. Urbano Vazquez was ordered held without bond during a detention hearing at D.C. Superior Court on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Rev. Urbano Vazquez has rejected a plea offer from D.C. prosecutors, maintains his innocence and will fight current charges of sexually abusing two children and an adult female parishioner.

In a status hearing, assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Williams told Superior Court Judge Juliet McKenna that Vazquez has turned down a plea offer that would have him plead guilty to reduced charges of one count of 2nd degree child sexual abuse, one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child with aggravating circumstances, and one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse.

Currently, Vazquez faces a statutory maximum of 30 years, 6 months in prison. With the reduced charges, he could have faced up to 11 years, 3 months behind bars.

McKenna asked Vazquez, who was standing next to defense attorney Robert Bonsib, if he was rejecting the offer — Vazquez said yes.

Outside the courtroom, Vazquez’s attorney said: “He maintains his innocence. He will contest the charges at trial,” which was set to begin Aug. 5.

As WTOP first reported, a 9-year-old girl told police Vazquez had kissed her on the mouth and inappropriately touched her approximately 60 times in 2017.

After Vazquez’s arrest was reported,  he was charged with two more crimes, involving another minor, and an adult woman.

Prosecutors have said in addition to the three victims Vazquez has been charged with abusing, three other victims — two minors and an adult — had accused him, but the statute of limitations had expired.

The plea offer extended by prosecutors would have precluded other charges involving the six alleged victims.

It’s unclear whether prosecutors intend to charge Vazquez with assaulting other victims. Williams told the judge he expects Vazquez will be indicted on the current charges by early May.

The offenses allegedly took place while Vazquez was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Vazquez’s next court appearance is a motions hearing, on May 24.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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