Former Woodland Priest Seeks Forgiveness
August 2, 2013
The former Woodland priest Father Uriel Ojeda apologized to the girl he molested and her family Friday in Sacramento County Superior Court as he was being sentenced to eight years in state prison.
Ojeda also said he was sorry to officials in the Catholic Church, other priests in general and the supporters who have consistently backed him throughout the years he has been accused of the molestation.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Eugene L. Balonon sentenced Ojeda, 33. He was facing 20 years in prison, but took a no-contest plea to charges that he molested the girl, who was 13 years old at the time, when he was a priest at Holy Rosary Parish in Woodland.
"You traumatized me," the girl told him in a letter that was read to the court by the prosecutor.
"I have committed a crime and a serious sin," Ojeda told the judge. "I would like to ask everybody for forgiveness and that they do find mercy for me."
In an age when we have seen too many priests convicted for their sins, Ojeda's confession and sentencing brings only a modicum of satisfaction. He was - like all priests - trusted by his congregation, a trust he violated. Such was his personal magnetism that there are still people who think the evidence was manufactured because he was such a rising star in the church.
We wish the sentence could have been longer. Eight years in prison does not seem enough time, particularly since he did abuse the trust of his congregation. As a society Americans hold their ministers in high regard, giving to them unprecedented levels of personal access. That's unfortunate since priests are mortals and mortals make mistakes
So, when the trust of our clergy is forsaken it should be severely punished.
But, the law being the law, we must be satisfied with eight years. Our only hope is that once Ojeda is released he will follow an old bit of Biblical wisdom and sin no more.