A Catholic priest has been accused of abusing a child inside a church in Northwest D.C. and the archdiocese says it has removed another priest from the church for not taking proper actions in reporting the alleged abuse.
Urbano Vazquez, 46, was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree child sexual abuse. Vazquez has worked at Shrine of the Sacred Heart in D.C.'s Columbia Heights neighborhood since 2014, according to the Archdiocese of Washington.
A victim said Vazquez put his hand down her shirt and touched her breast at Sacred Heart in May 2015. She was 13 at the time.
According to court documents, the girl's mother reported the incident to the church's head pastor, Father Moises Villalta, in 2015.
Villalta translated the girl's parents' account from Spanish into English in a letter at the time. However, the alleged abuse was not reported to police until Oct. 26, 2018 after Villalta told another priest visiting the church about the allegations, documents say.
"Since the initial claim to police, additional allegations against Father Vazquez were reported," the Archdiocese of Washington said in a lengthy statement Wednesday night.
Investigators learned of two other complaints against Vazquez in 2015.
A 16-year-old victim said Vazquez kissed her on her lips in the church dining room. When the girl’s mother walked in and saw him kissing her, Vazquez claimed he didn’t know what came over him, according to documents.
In another report, a 15-year-old girl said Vazquez rubbed her leg during confession.
The archdiocese said Wednesday it immediately removed Vazquez from ministry and suspended his priestly faculties when it first heard of the allegations from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin on Oct. 26.
During a review of the allegations, the archdiocese said it found that Father Moises Villalta, pastor of Sacred Heart, failed to follow protocols in reporting abuse allegations to authorities and the archdiocese. Villalta was removed as pastor, the archdiocese said.
Vazquez was released on his own recognizance under the conditions he stay away church, D.C. and juveniles, Telemundo 44's Karla Flores reported. He will stay in Pennsylvania in Order of Friars Minor Capuchin housing until a preliminary hearing Dec. 10.
The archdiocese said the parish's child protection coordinator has also been placed on administrative leave.
In October, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced he is investigating whether the Archdiocese of Washington broke D.C. law in its handling of other church sex abuse cases.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia opened the Clergy Abuse Reporting Line for survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy in D.C. who want to share their experiences with law enforcement.
Survivors can call 202-252-7008 or send an email to USADC.ReportClergyAbuse@usdoj.gov.
Virginia's attorney general also opened a hotline for victims. The toll-free hotline 833-454-9064 and virginiaclergyhotline.com are available 24 hours a day.