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DC priest pleads not guilty to sex abuse of 3 parishioners; other accusers may testify

D.C. priest Urbano Vazquez pleaded not guilty to seven child sex abuse counts, May 24, 2019, at D.C. Superior Court. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

The local Catholic priest indicted on seven counts of sexually abusing two children and a woman — all parishioners — has pleaded not guilty in D.C. Superior Court.

Urbano Vazquez is charged with inappropriately kissing and touching 10- and 13-year-old girls and a 33-year-old woman from 2015 to 2017 while he was their priest at Shrine of the Sacred Heart.

During his arraignment and motions hearing Friday morning, prosecutors said they were willing to prosecute Vazquez separately for his misdemeanor charges against the woman.

However, prosecutors said they wanted to try Vazquez for the crimes against the girls in a single case, and they’re seeking to allow jurors to hear testimony from two other young women who say Vazquez abused them in 2015, when they were 15 and 16 years old.

In the case of the woman, prosecutors would like to present testimony from another woman who said she was assaulted.

All the accusers were parishioners.

In seeking to admit “other crimes evidence,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Williams said testimony from the 15- and 16-year-old accusers would continue a pattern demonstrated by Vazquez.

“The way the defendant committed the sexual acts was similar in that he touched and/or kissed them but did not escalate his abuse to penetration,” Williams wrote. “Moreover, each time he acted as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring, which served to confuse and disarm the victims.”

According to prosecutors, “the alleged conduct is neither aberrant nor accidental for the defendant, but rather reflects his unusual predilection for molesting young girls.”

Prosecutors were precluded from prosecuting Vazquez against the two additional children and the other woman, because the three-year statute of limitations for misdemeanor simple assault expired before the government learned of the incident.

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