Catholic Priest's Arraignment May 27

By Linda Thomson
Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
May 20, 2003

A Catholic priest charged with enticing a minor over the Internet will be arraigned May 27 before 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley.

The Rev. Mario Arbelaez Olarte, an assistant priest at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ogden, was arrested May 15 after allegedly attempting to entice a boy over the Internet to a face-to-face meeting. However, the child in question turned out to be a police officer working undercover.

The Weber County Attorney's Office has charged Olarte with a class A misdemeanor in connection with the incident.

Prosecutor Mark DeCaria said if convicted Olarte could face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. DeCaria said Olarte has been released on his own recognizance.

Ogden attorney Bernie Allen is representing Olarte.

Olarte allegedly began communicating with what he apparently thought was a 15-year-old boy in a gay chat room on the Internet and allegedly made plans to meet in person, according to police.

Police said Olarte directed the person to meet him at 25th Street and Adams Avenue and that Olarte would honk his car horn when he got there. Police from the Northern Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force set up surveillance, observed Olarte drive by three times and then honk the horn of his car, and then arrested him.

The Catholic Diocese of Utah has placed Olarte on administrative leave and he "may not function as a priest," according to a statement from the diocese.

"Our diocesan policies regarding sexual misconduct as well as the principles in the U.S. Bishops 2002 Charter for the protection of children and young people will determine our course of action in regard to Father Olarte," the statement said.

Olarte, a native of Colombia, previously served as a priest in Midvale.


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