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  Area Cleric Says He's Not Guilty
Priest Faces One Dozen Sexual Crime Charges

By Angelica Martinez
San Bernardino Sun
May 22, 2003

San Bernardino - A Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting two teenage boys here and in Colton pleaded innocent at his arraignment Thursday morning.

Monsignor Peter H. Luque, 68, was charged in late April inconnection with incidents that happened in the 1960s, authorities said.

Luque sat quietly in front of Commissioner Joseph M.Petrasek in San Bernardino Superior Court, officials said. The priest faces 12 felony counts, including oral copulation,lewd acts on a child and sodomy. Authorities allege that the boys were sexually assaulted from June 1963 to February 1969.

Luque and his defense attorney could not be reached for comment.

Deputy District Attorney Curt Rowley said Luque was orderedto appear in court again on July 9. He remains free because he isn't considered a flight risk, district attorney's officials said.

The alleged crimes occurred when Luque was in his late 20s andearly 30s, authorities said. The boys are now in their early 50s.

Luque became the target of an investigation after the Diocese ofSan Bernardino, which covers San Bernardino and Riverside counties, gave authorities the names of 20 priests accused of sexually assaulting children in the two counties between 1957 and 1995.

Luque, who was ordained in 1962, resigned as pastor of St. EdwardChurch in Corona, a 5,500-member congregation, in March. He has since been on administrative leave, said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, diocesan spokesman.

It is uncertain how much time Luque would be sentenced to serveif convicted of the charges, said Rowley, adding that attorneys are still determining what sentencing laws would apply if Luque is convicted.

Under laws previously in effect, he said, a person convicted ofsuch charges could face life in prison. Current laws have sentences with a set number of years, depending on the crime.

Parishioners at St. Edward "are sustaining ... [Luque] at thisdifficult time,' Lincoln said.

"Through the years, Monsignor Luque has made many longtimefriends,' he said. "We have confidence and faith in our justice system.'

 
 

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