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  Molestation Case Testimony to Begin

By Daniel Tepfer
Connecticut Post [Bridgeport CT]
January 24, 2005

BRIDGEPORT Testimony is scheduled to begin this morning in the Superior Court trial of a former seminary student in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport arrested for allegedly molesting a 16-year-old city girl.

Leonardo Montoya, 30, now living in Monroe, will be tried before a six-person jury on a charge of fourth-degree sexual assault.

The trial, presided over by Judge Heidi Winslow, is expected to last about two weeks.

Assistant State's Attorney Pamela Esposito, who is prosecuting the case, declined comment. Montoya is represented by Leonard Crone Jr.

Montoya, formerly assigned to St. Augustine's Cathedral here as well as churches in Trumbull and Norwalk, is accused of molesting the girl, whose family he met through the church, while visiting their Bridgeport home on Nov. 30, 2003.

The girl was so traumatized by the incident she had to be hospitalized for a short period of time.

Police Detective Angel Llanos later interviewed the girl at the hospital.

The girl told police that on Nov. 29 Montoya had picked her up in Waterbury with her mother and brother to drive them back to their home here. The 16-year-old, sitting in the front passenger seat, said Montoya began touching her knee and trying to rub her thigh.

That night the girl told police that after she had gone to bed she was awakened by Montoya, who appeared to be intoxicated. She told police that when Montoya pulled down the bed's covers, she yelled at him and he left the room.

However, the girl said she was awakened again sometime later by Montoya, who had removed the covers and was rubbing her genital area. She told police she jumped out of bed and began screaming. She then ran to tell her father what happened and he ordered Montoya to leave the house.

According to police, the girl's family said Montoya had been married in his native Colombia, where he had been a police officer.

Montoya, who was in his third year of a four-year ordination program, was dismissed on Jan. 15, 2004, after police notified the diocese of the investigation.

According to the diocese, Montoya entered St. John Fisher Seminary Residence in Stamford in September 2000 and Blessed John XXIII Major Seminary in Weston, Mass., in September 2001. He interned at St. Augustine Cathedral, St. Stephen's Church in Trumbull and St. Mary's Parish in Norwalk.

The Rev. Chris Walsh, vocation director for the Bridgeport diocese, said Montoya previously was in a seminary in Colombia, but took time off to teach at a missionary school there. He said Montoya's brother is a priest in California, and through a connection in this diocese, arranged for the defendant to continue his training for the priesthood here.