Priest's Sentence in Sexual Assault a Complex Ruling

By Jacque Crouse
The Express-News
July 12, 1995

Q. I read recently about the Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Carlos Lozano, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his students. The district attorney asked for a 60-day sentence, and he got 30 days.

Both sound pretty light to me, and I am confused as to why such a lenient sentence. What is the maximum he could have received, and why did he get such a lenient sentence? - S.S.

A. As to why he received such a sentence, there probably are several reasons. The plea agreement was that in exchange for pleading no contest to four charges (including indecency with a child and a aggravated sexual abuse) the priest would have a 15-year cap on a possible 20-year sentence, and the state would remain silent on deferred adjudication probation (the only probation a judge can give in such cases).

Records will reflect an arrest and probation if the priest successfully completes the probation. No final conviction will show on his record. If the probation is revoked, there is a final conviction.

The judge also could assess jail time (180 days per case). He got 30 days and 10 years' probation.

He also paid a $4,000 fine and was assessed more than 1,200 hours of community service work.

The priest must report more often than normal to probation officials, and must take part in child sex offender programs such as behavior modification, which involves having electrodes affixed to his genitals and being shocked if he shows arousal at children's images.

Catholic Church officials stated in the presentence report that the priest will never work around children again.

By placing him on the probation, the judge keeps jurisdiction over the case for 10 years or until probation is terminated (it could be as little as 39 months, if the judge agrees.)

For probation violations, the judge can send him back to jail for the remaining 150 days (minus the 30) of the 180 he could give him as a requirement of probation on one case. He also can send him for 180 days on the second case, and on the third case and on the fourth case.

The judge also may send the priest to prison for the maximum of 20 years on each case, for a total of 80 years. In this case, the law would require he serve half of any sentenced he receives.

If he had received the full 15 years in the plea bargain, he would have served at least 7-1/2 or half the time. The judge would lose jurisdiction 75 days after he was sentenced.

Some people would argue he deserved the 15-year sentence. Others believe that by keeping him on probation and closely watched, he will be less likely to do anything in the future. It is a judgment call.

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