Man Sues Diocese, Fugitive Priest over Molestation

By Jennifer Garza
Sacramento Bee
July 1, 2003

A 31-year-old state worker is suing the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and the priest whom he accuses of sexually molesting him when he was a child.

The lawsuit, filed June 3 in Sacramento Superior Court, claims the man, identified only as James Doe, was assaulted by the Rev. Jose Luis Urbina from the age of 9 until he was 17. At the time, in the 1980s, the plaintiff and his family were active members of St. Joseph Parish in Marysville.

In 1989, Urbina pleaded guilty to committing lewd acts with a child under 14. While awaiting sentencing, he skipped bail. He is believed to have fled to Mexico.

Urbina was a priest in the Sacramento Diocese from 1980 to 1989.

"What my client wants is someone to come forward if they have information about Urbina's whereabouts," said Sacramento attorney Joseph George. He said his client is suing now because he became angry after recently reading accounts of the case.

Diocesan officials say they also want the priest to return.

"He's a fugitive from justice," said Lynette Magnino, associate director of communications for the Sacramento Diocese. "He ... violated everything we hold dear as a church and as Christians."

Magnino added that the diocese urges anyone who might have been harmed or abused by Urbina to come forward.

The charges against Urbina are not affected by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned California's statute of limitations law because criminal proceedings against the priest began before the 1994 change in the statute of limitations.

"He pleaded guilty, he fled and he's still wanted by law enforcement authorities," said Patrick McGrath, Yuba County district attorney.


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