Trial begins for DC priest accused of sexual abuse

A priest accused of child sex abuse in D.C. is set to go on trial this week.

Urbano Vazquez is charged with inappropriately touching two children at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Northwest D.C. between 2015 and 2017, when he was assistant pastor at the parish.

The Archdiocese of Washington has since removed Vazquez from ministry.

According to prosecutors, one of the victims was a 13-year-old girl.

The other was allegedly a 9-year-old girl, whom Vazquez is accused of abusing for about a year until she was 10.

Jury selection in the trial was set for Monday. Vazquez’s lawyer, Robert Bonsib, told WTOP that he expects the case to possibly last up to two weeks.

Vazquez was initially arrested in November in connection with the allegations involving the 13-year-old girl. As police investigated, more accusations of inappropriate touching came to light.

Following the arrest, Bonsib issued a written statement.

“Although we are in a very toxic environment for one who is confronting allegations of sexual misconduct, Father Urbano hopes to respond to these allegations in a responsible manner as we investigate and seek to understand the basis for these allegations,” he said.

In addition to the child sex abuse charges, Vazquez also faces misdemeanor sex abuse charges over an accusation of groping a woman during confession. That part of his case will be handled separately from the charges involving the children.

Vazquez was offered a plea deal from prosecutors, but he decided to turn that down in March.

Prosecutors said that in addition to the three Vazquez has been charged with abusing, three others — two minors and an adult — accused him of similar crimes. Additional charges were not filed in response to those claims, prosecutors said, because the statute of limitations had expired.

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