Catholic priest testifies in DC sex assault trial, denies inappropriate touching or kissing

A jury has now heard from the Catholic priest on trial for sexually assaulting  parishioners.

Urbano Vazquez testified for a second day Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court. He denied inappropriately touching or kissing two girls and woman at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Northwest D.C. in 2016.

Vazquez is charged with abusing a 13-year-old parishioner, just two years after being ordained. He is also charged with abusing a 12-year-old girl who testified on Tuesday.

Jurors also heard testimony from a woman who says Vasquez kissed her in 2016.

Vazquez was asked if he’d been afforded a higher level of trust than most priests, as part of the Hispanic culture, he said “sure.”

Prosecutor Matt Williams asked if Vazquez had been trained on boundaries with children.

Vazquez said, “That’s correct.”

“In your role as a priest, is your heightened power because you can forgive sins? And you can provide absolution in the name of God?” Williams asked.

Vazquez said, “That’s correct.”

He was asked if he had ever kissed a child on the lips and touched a child on the thigh.

Vazquez answered “no” to each but three victims testified for the prosecution that he had.

During cross examination, the Rev. Joseph Allen Mindling, of the Order of Friar’s Minor Capuchin –testifying for the defense — said he’s known Vazquez since they were young.

“I’ve always known him to be law abiding,” Mindling said.

He was asked if part of his training is to protect children from clergy sexual abuse. He said yes.

Prosecutor Sharon Marcus-Kurn described all the inappropriate touching alleged by the three victims in Vazquez’s trial. Mindling said each wasn’t allowed.

Jury instructions and closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning, before the jury begins deliberations.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein reported from Washington, D.C. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Vasquez is being charged with the assault of the 13-year-old and 12-year-old victims.

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