The Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing two children of his Washington, D.C., parish has been found guilty.
Urbano Vazquez was convicted Thursday on four felony counts of child sexual abuse.
Vazquez groped a 9-year-old girl and 13-year-old girl in 2016, two years after he was ordained as a priest in the Capuchin Franciscan religious order.
He denied ever touching the girls, and his lawyer said the allegations were fabricated and lacked common sense.
Now 12, one victim testified that her urge to be a Catholic nun died when she was groped and kissed by the priest when she was 9 years old. In four hours of gut-wrenching testimony, she told the jury that Vazquez, 47, kissed her in 2016 and groped her “a lot of times,” including in the church’s sacristy.
She said she kept quiet for fear of something “worser,” but eventually told her mother.
Now 18, a second victim testified that Vazquez first groped her when she was 13, in spring 2015. She said he caressed her thigh during a “face-to-face” confession and then groped her chest. She testified that weeks later, Vazquez shoved his hand into her bra as she sat in a church office.
A woman unrelated to those cases testified that Vazquez kissed her in 2015, when she was 16. He did not face charges in that case, though he is separately charged with abusing an adult woman who he reportedly groped during confession.
Vazquez was arrested last year and removed from his position at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, a large and predominantly Latino parish in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest D.C.
He is set to be sentenced in November and could face decades in prison.
SOURCE: NBC4 Washington, The Associated Press