Felony Charge against Priest Dropped
By Rob Parsons
June 28, 2013
A Catholic priest "nibbled" a Yuba City teenager's nose, put his head against her chest, pulled her down onto a bed and kissed her face repeatedly, the 16-year-old testified on Thursday.
"Then he put his tongue inside my mouth," the girl said in Sutter County Superior Court. The Appeal-Democrat is not naming the girl because she is a minor and an alleged victim.
During a recorded phone call between the girl and the Rev. Julio Cesar Guarin-Sosa, the Colombian priest apologized for the alleged March 8 incident in the Yuba City girl's bedroom and asked her to keep it secret, Yuba City police Officer Isabel Kodani testified.
"Because he said it would destroy his life," Kodani said. "He told her it would never happen again."
Superior Court Judge Christopher R. Chandler ordered Guarin-Sosa, 43, to stand trial on misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and child molestation following Thursday's preliminary hearing.
If convicted, the priest could face jail time and would register a sex offender for life.
Chandler dismissed a felony false imprisonment charge, saying the Sutter County District Attorney's Office did not have evidence of "violence or menace" sufficient to support the allegation.
Defense attorney Markus Dombois told the court that the girl had "blown things out of proportion" and said the girl appeared to have been "coached as to what to say" on the witness stand.
"The evidence continues to evolve to fit the charges," Dombois argued.
He also argued that the girl's version of events has changed numerous times, including on the witness stand on Thursday.
The girl testified that Guarin-Sosa pinned her arms to her side and squeezed her face in his hands. The girl acknowledged that she had not disclosed those details prior to Thursday.
But Detective Brent Slade said Guarin-Sosa admitted wrongdoing during an interview with investigators and also said Guarin-Sosa told them he made confession to another priest afterward.
"He admitted he kissed her too close to her mouth," Slade said.
Dombois argued that his client did not admit breaking the law, but only acknowledged and felt guilty for making the girl "uncomfortable." Dombois told the court that Guarin-Sosa is innocent.
"He didn't do anything," Dombois said. "He never believed he did anything wrong."
Dombois has argued the reported incident was nothing more than a "cultural misunderstanding."
Deputy District Attorney Anu Chopra called the priest's alleged conduct "unnatural" and pointed to the priest's alleged statements that he "loved" the girl and wanted her to visit him in Colombia and be "skinny and beautiful" for him when he returned to the United States.
"He was saying things to her that certainly no priest would ever say to a child," Chopra said.
Chandler ordered Guarin-Sosa to return to court on July 2 for a pretrial conference. Guarin-Sosa remains free on bond.