Victim and mother take stand in alleged clergy sex abuse case

Jurors in the trial of a D.C. priest are hearing from the people who have accused Urbano Vazquez of child sex abuse.

Vazquez, whose trial started earlier this week, 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.

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

The mother of one of those children took the stand Thursday and told the story of how she learned of the allegations.

She testified that for an extended period of time, her 9-year-old daughter had been acting strange, lost her appetite and refused to eat. Eventually, she said, her daughter approached her, distraught, and asked why her trusted priest kisses her on the mouth.

The mother said when she confronted Vazquez and asked him about it, he did not deny the allegation and simply told her that it would not happen again.

A day earlier in D.C. Superior Court, jurors heard directly from that alleged victim, who said kissing and inappropriate touching from Vazquez went on for several months until she was 10 years old.

At the time of the alleged abuse, the girl was a leader among the parish’s altar servers. Her mother said that leadership position worried her, because she thought it was too advanced for a 9-year-old child to handle.

Another person who spoke to the jury Thursday was a 10-year-old girl who is friends with the alleged victim. She spoke with a counselor at Sacred Heart School, she testified, after the alleged victim told her that Vazquez had been touching her.

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.

Read more

Trial starts for DC priest accused of sexually abusing girls

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

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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