Catholic priest held on child sex abuse charge
Archdiocese gets mutiple reports
D.C. police have arrested a Catholic priest and charged him with sexually assaulting a child.
Metropolitan Police on Wednesday arrested the Rev. Urbano Vazquez, 46, on charges of second-degree child sexual abuse.
Father Vazquez was the parochial vicar at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart parish in Columbia Heights.
The Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it suspended Father Vazquez last month after it learned of an assault allegation against him. The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, which oversees Sacred Heart parish, reported the alleged incident Oct. 26 to the archdiocese, which then informed D.C. Metropolitan Police.
“This was the first report to the archdiocese of this allegation of sexual abuse,” the archdiocese said in a written statement. “Since the initial claim to police, additional allegations against Father Vazquez were reported.”
The archdiocese said it also removed Sacred Heart’s pastor, the Rev. Moises Villalta, saying he “failed to follow appropriate protocols related to reporting allegations of abuse to civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Washington.” Sacred Heart’s child protection coordinator also was suspended.
Father Vazquez had served as a priest at Sacred Heart since 2014.
Early last month, the archdiocese released a list of 31 priests who had been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors in D.C.-area churches. Most of those abuse cases dated back several decades, and only three were after 2000. Sixteen of the 31 priests have died.
The allegations against Father Vazquez emerged after the archdiocese released the list.
The archdiocese recently has been rocked by scandals involving its two most recent archbishops over incidents that did not occur in the Archdiocese of Washington.
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl resigned as archbishop last month over allegations that he covered up sexual abuse charges against priests when he was bishop of Pittsburgh. Pope Francis has asked him to remain in the post until a replacement is chosen.
Last summer, Theodore E. McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals over allegations that he had sexually abused young men during his tenure as a New York priest and a New Jersey bishop. He reportedly is living in a friary in Kansas and is awaiting a formal Vatican trial.
Late last month, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced that his office had launched an investigation of sexual abuse by clergy in the archdiocese.
His office cannot bring charges against predator priests because the U.S. attorney’s office holds jurisdiction over all felony cases in the District.