Priest booked into Sutter County Jail after molestation report
A priest visiting from Columbia and arrested Sunday on suspicion of sexual battery and molestation of a teenage girl in Yuba City must turn over his passport, Sutter County Superior Court Judge Susan Green ruled Tuesday.
Her decision came after a deputy district attorney said in court that the Rev. Julio Cesar Guarin-Sosa, 43, had insisted to the jail staff that if he posted bail he would make his flight today to Colombia.
"He's not necessarily willing to stay and face the charges," Deputy D.A. Jacquelyn Stenson said.
Green's ruling requires the priest to turn his passport over to the court as a condition of bail.
Attorney Markus Dombois, representing Guarin-Sosa, said remarks by the priest about making his flight didn't involve his trying to leave the country, but Guarin-Sosa's concerns about missing his booked air travel.
"He's a man who follows schedules and strict routines," Dombois said.
Guarin-Sosa's arraignment was continued to Friday in Sutter County Superior Court after Dombois asked to delay the matter.
The attorney said outside the courtroom that the case might be spurious and could involve a cultural misunderstanding.
"He comes from a different culture where people hug each other and kiss each other," Dombois said. Guarin-Sosa was arrested at the Lodi Police Department on Saturday and was booked into Sutter County Jail the next day, along with an immigration hold. His bail was set at $250,000.
Yuba City police said Guarin-Sosa was in town on Friday to perform Mass at a home, when he came in contact with the 16-year-old. It's alleged that he had inappropriate contact with her during that visit, according to police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey.
The incident was reported to authorities on Saturday.
Pavey said police are looking into the extent of the family's relationship with Guarin-Sosa, but officials believe he was invited by the family to do the Mass.
"As a result of the charges, Father Guarin's permission to exercise ministry in the Diocese of Stockton has been revoked. His diocese in Colombia has been informed," a news release from the Diocese of Stockton stated.
The Diocese of Stockton said the priest was helping at St. Anne's Parish in Lodi.
A statement from the diocese said Bishop Stephen Blaire had received a letter of good standing by Guarin-Sosa's diocese in Colombia.
Priest’s attorney challenges courtoom photos
In Sutter County Superior Court on Tuesday, Judge Susan Green agreed to allow broadcast news outlets to take still photos of the Rev. Julio Cesar Guarin-Sosa. The judge cited the state's interest in transparency for court cases.
The priest, speaking through an interpreter for the scheduled video arraignment, said after photographs of him were taken that, "All people have a right to honor — the honor of their name."
He asked of people taking his photograph, where is the honor of this person?
Attorney Markus Dombois had spoken against allowing the photographs of his client and said the selection of a new pope spurred the requests.
"This is newsworthy only because of what's happening in Europe now with the conclave," he said.
He said that defendants in criminal cases become pariahs even if the allegations turn out to lack substance and cited the McMartin Preschool in Southern California as an example. Allegations of sexual abuse at the school arose in 1984 and trials of defendants ended in 1990 with acquittals and hung juries.
"I don't want this firestorm to even begin," Dombois said of media attention about Guarin-Sosa, adding that "I'm afraid it's already begun.
"This case is blowing up," the attorney said.