Sutter County Jury: Priest Not Guilty of Child Molestation
By Monica Vaughan
October 11, 2013
The Catholic priest charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and child molestation while visiting from Colombia was found not guilty by a jury on Friday afternoon in Sutter County Superior Court.
"When I first got this case, I was concerned about it because it was a Roman Catholic priest charged with molestation," said defense attorney Markus Dombois. "What I said in the beginning of this case was this was a witch hunt, and this girl had imagined these things."
Prosecutors argued that the Rev. Julio Cesar Guarin-Sosa used his position of power with the church and a 16-year-old girl's confidence issues to take advantage of her while they were alone in her bedroom, kissing her multiple times on her face, sticking his tongue in her mouth, holding her tight and "sucking" or "nibbling" on her nose.
"He knew she had low self-esteem, and he took advantage of that," said prosecutor Anu Chopra in her closing arguments on Friday.
The Appeal-Democrat is not naming the girl because she is a minor.
Dombois said the "evidence was evolving with the charges" during pre-trial and that the girl was not truthful about the incident.
Guarin-Sosa was also charged with a felony false imprisonment charge, but Superior Court Judge Christopher R. Chandler said the Sutter County District Attorney's Office did not have evidence of "violence or menace" sufficient to support the allegation.
Dombois said cultural differences played a significant role in the trial.
Guarin-Sosa admitted to kissing her close to her mouth because "she need more tenderness." He said in Colombia he kisses all the people, and there is more tenderness.
The girl also took the stand during the trial. Chopra said that the girl was embarrassed and looked down while giving testimony, but that her testimony was consistent.