Ex-redding Priest Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison
August 2, 2013
|In this May 21, 2009, file photo, Uriel Ojeda holds a meeting at his parish. The suspended Redding priest today pleaded no contest to molesting a teenage girl and was remanded into custody after taking a plea bargain.|
A former Redding priest who pleaded no contest last month to molesting a teenage girl was sentenced today to eight years in prison.
The Rev. Uriel Ojeda, 33, who faced 20 years in prison if he had been convicted at trial, took a plea bargain in July that called for an eight-year sentence.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Ojeda made his first public statements on the issue prior to the sentencing.
"My actions were those of a weak and sinful man," The Bee reported him as saying.
The victim and her family also submitted written statements, calling Ojeda a coward who betrayed their trust.
Ojeda took the plea bargain after a Superior Court judge ruled earlier that statements Ojeda made to a Sacramento diocese official and a private investigator could be used against him at trial.
Ojeda, who was arrested Nov. 30, 2011, was charged with lewd and lascivious acts with a teenage girl over a two-year span — starting when she was 14 — in Sacramento and Shasta counties, according to the criminal complaint.
Ojeda was the assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Redding at the time of his arrest.
Prosecutors have said Ojeda admitted to an investigator for the Sacramento Catholic Diocese that he repeatedly molested the teenage parishioner, but Ojeda and his defense attorney unsuccessfully tried last month to block those statements from being disclosed at his then upcoming trial, claiming they were confidential.
The seven-count criminal complaint against Ojeda alleged the first three molestations, all of which occurred in the girl’s bedroom in Sacramento County, took place between June 29, 2007, and June 30, 2009.
But four other incidents were also alleged to have occurred in a swimming pool, a bathroom and a bedroom in Shasta County between July 1, 2009, and Aug. 30, 2009, according to the criminal complaint.
According to the first count in the criminal complaint, Ojeda entered the girl’s bedroom in Sacramento County and touched her inappropriately.
The felony complaint also claimed he fondled the girl and kissed her during later encounters with her in Sacramento County. In addition, while they were in Shasta County, Ojeda touched the girl’s breast in a bathroom and in a swimming pool and also pulled her on top of him, the complaint said.
In exchange for Ojeda’s plea, the DA’s office dropped six other felony counts that had been filed against him, all involving the same victim.