Trial Begins for Priest Accused of Decade-Old Abuse in Bay Area

Associated Press
September 8, 2004

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - The trial of a Catholic priest accused of decade-old sexual abuse in a Bay area parish opened with testimony from the alleged victim.

The trial of Jose Superiaso resumed Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court, a day after the prosecution's opening statements and two weeks after the priest rejected a plea offer.

Superiaso is accused of molesting a girl between July 1994 and November 1995 when he served at St. Andrew Church in Daly City. He has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts of child molestation.

The accuser, who was 12 when the abuse allegedly began, testified Tuesday after the prosecution's opening statements, the San Mateo County district attorney's office said. The defense chose to give opening statements later but called a character witness who is a friend of the 50-year-old priest.

Superiaso was arrested in June 2003 after he was lured back to California from Santa Fe, N.M., where he had moved in 1998 and was serving as a priest. After his accuser reported the alleged abuse, police arranged for her to contact Superiaso and ask him to return to California to discuss their situation.

Police then met him at a Daly City cafe and arrested him.

Superiaso's attorney unsuccessfully tried to have the charges dismissed because the six-year statute of limitations had expired. The judge disagreed, citing a 1994 law that gives prosecutors a year after a victim comes forward to file charges in child molestation cases.

Ordained in his native Philippines, Superiaso also served in California as a priest at Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Belmont and at Our Lady of the Pillar Church in Half Moon Bay.

Officials with the archdiocese of Santa Fe said it had received no complaints about the priest in the three years he was an associate rector at St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe.

Superiaso remains in San Mateo County Jail.


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