Yakima Diocese Priest arrested for rape

KIMA-TV, CBS affiliate [Yakima WA]

September 7, 2022

A Yakima Diocese priest has been arrested in Benton County on suspicion of third-degree rape with an aggravating factor of being a person of trust.

Reverend Tomás Vázquez Téllez, 49, was arrested on Wednesday, Sept. 7th.

He is now in the Benton County Jail awaiting his charges.

The arrest follows a Kennewick Police Department investigation of a reported rape that occurred August 19th and 20th at the suspect’s home in the city.

The woman reported the rape to another priest in the diocese within hours of it happening, then decided to report it to police.

Vázquez resigned as pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Kennewick in April 2020.

He then began serving at Pasco’s St. Patrick Catholic Church and was preparing to go to Jerusalem before the incident.

“We are shocked and saddened by these developments,” Yakima Diocese Bishop Joseph J. Tyson said. “I am grateful that the woman came forward immediately and trusted another of our priests well enough to confide in him and to bring this matter to light.”

Bishop Tyson says that in both civil and church law, Vázquez is presumed innocent, and will receive salary and benefits from the diocese while he awaits a resolution of any criminal charges in court.

The Church says they will not pay for his legal defenses.