Jurors Deliberate in Trial of Passaic Priest Accused of Molesting 14-year-old Girl
By Kibret Markos
June 23, 2016
|The Rev. Jose Lopez in court on Tuesday, June 21, 2016.|
Jurors in Paterson started deliberating Thursday in the trial of a former Passaic priest who is accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl three years ago.
Passaic County prosecutors said during a trial in Superior Court in Paterson that the Rev. Jose Lopez took the girl to his private living quarters inside the St. Mary’s Church on Market Street, placed her on his lap and touched her inappropriately.
Witnesses for the prosecution testified that the girl told them Lopez tried to rape her but she ran out of his suite. They also said he admitted that he took the girl into his suite and that he went “too far.”
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Lopez was removed from the church after the allegations were reported to the Catholic diocese and later to authorities in 2013. Lopez maintains that he is innocent and that he never touched the girl in a sexual manner.
Several character witnesses testified on Lopez’s behalf on Wednesday, telling jurors that Lopez was an honest and well-liked priest and that his removal was a loss for the church, whose membership grew significantly during Lopez’s time there.
Lopez, 37, is charged with attempted sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, child endangerment and luring. He faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted.
Jurors deliberated for less than an hour on Thursday before Judge Sohail Mohammed dismissed them for the day. They are scheduled to continue deliberations Friday.