2 more teens accuse D.C. priest arrested for sexual abuse
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
Shrine of the Sacred Heart held a 6:45 p.m. mass on Thursday, less than 24 hours after news broke that one of their priests had been arrested and charged with child sex abuse.
“We’ve been praying. Today I spent all day in church. ” said Marie Jean-Claude, a member of the church for the last 50 years. “People come in and we talk to each other and we pray together and some members are crying.”
Father Urbano Vazquez is charged with second-degree child sexual abuse. The Archdiocese of Washington says he was immediately removed from the church when they learned of the allegations.
DC Police say the charge stems from a 2015 incident in which Vazquez is accused of inappropriately touching a 15-year-old girl. The allegations just came to light late last month.
Court documents say that encounter took place in a rectory office during a church cookout in May 2015.
Court documents also revealed two other alleged victims have since come forward — a 16-year-old girl who says Vazquez kissed her at the church, and a 15-year-old girl who he allegedly touched on the thigh during confession.
Vazquez appeared before a judge for the first time on Thursday. He was released from jail, but his passport was confiscated. He was also ordered to stay away from Shrine of the Sacred Heart.
He will live at a Franciscan facility in Pennsylvania while he awaits trial in the District.
Many parishioners were not yet ready to talk about the priest’s arrest, saying it’s been a tough couple of days for the entire congregation.
Jean-Claude said she won’t rush to judgement, but will instead wait until the case plays out in court.
“Everyone is in shock so we’re just trying to digest it,” she said. “Just have to wait and see what comes out of it. That’s all we can do.”