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  Priest Arrested in Molest Case
Girl Abused 25 Times at Daly City Rectory, Prosecutors Charge

By Jim Herron Zamora
San Francisco Chronicle
June 11, 2003

A Catholic priest was arrested Tuesday on charges of molesting a girl 25 times in the mid-1990s while serving at a Daly City church.

Police arrested Father Jose Superiaso, 46, of Santa Fe at a Daly City cafe where he had gone to meet with the alleged victim, who is now an adult, prosecutors said. Superiaso, who is being held at San Mateo County jail in lieu of $2.5 million bail, is scheduled to be arraigned today on charges of molesting a minor, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe.

Superiaso's arrest is the latest case in a nationwide trend in which current and former priests has been accused of sexually abusing children years ago. These include five cases charged in the Bay Area in the past two years.

California and other states changed their statute of limitations laws to allow prosecutors to charge such crimes even if the are decades old. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on a challenge to California's 1994 law before it adjourns June 30.

Police began investigating Superiaso when a woman, now 20, came forward and accused him of molesting her in the rectory, or priests' home, adjacent to St. Andrew Church, when she was 12 and 13, Wagstaffe said.

Between July 18, 1994, and Nov. 30, 1995, Wagstaffe said, Superiaso is suspected of engaging in acts of sexual intercourse, oral copulation and fondling with the girl, Wagstaffe said.

The current acting pastor at St. Andrew could not be reached, and the spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco did not return phone calls to his home on Tuesday night. A parish volunteer who answered the phone at St. Andrew said everyone who knew Superiaso was shocked by the charges but declined to give her name or comment further.

Superiaso was assistant pastor at St. Andrew in the mid-1990s. In 1998, he transferred to Santa Fe, N.M., where he helps minister to Navajo Indians in the northwestern part of that state.

Police investigators arranged for the 20-year-old victim to call Superiaso and ask him to meet her in Daly City to talk about their sexual encounters, Wagstaffe said. He agreed. The conversation was taped by police, the prosecutor said.

"He was lured up to the Bay Area, ostensibly to meet her in a cafe," Wagstaffe said. "She was nowhere around. Instead, he met the police."

Superiaso was ordained in his native Philippines. Before serving at St. Andrew, he was a priest at Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Belmont and at Our Lady of the Pillar Church in Half Moon Bay.

Wagstaffe said the Archdiocese of San Francisco had cooperated with the investigation. He said that authorities so far had no evidence that Superiaso had molested anyone else. But he encouraged any possible victims to contact local police.

 
 

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