Alleged Victim Testifies in Taban Trial

By Monica Balderrama
May 13, 2008

[with video and link to indictment of Father Taban on sexual assault charges]

EL PASO, Texas — The trial of Catholic priest Philip Taban, who's accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman, continued on its second day on Tuesday morning.

Taban was arrested in September 2007 on charges of sexual assault against an 18-year-old woman. The jury heard from the alleged victim who testified that a friend of hers introduced them at a cook-out. The next day she went to Taban's residence to talk because she needed spiritual guidance but it led to something else, she testified.

Philip Taban

"He was touching me on my breast, then he told me he wanted to put his hand underneath my pants. I said no," said the alleged rape victim who will not be identified.

The woman testified she didn't quite understand what was happening. She said she felt uncomfortable and confused.

"He wanted me to kiss him down there too. I didn't want to, I don't know, then I did," said the woman.

The woman also testified that she didn't tell anyone about the alleged rape because she was overwhelmed with problems she had at home. Talking about those problems led to another meeting with Taban.

"He was telling me to go over because I needed to talk to someone about the problems and I thought that's why he wanted me to go," said the woman.

Monica Balderrama Reports: Victim Testifies Against Preist

Monica Balderrama Reports: Priest Testifies Against Father Taban

Indictment: Philip Taban

Taban's defense attorney maintains the sex was consensual and that the two had a growing relationship in which they communicated through texting and e-mails.

"Did you ever text him that you fell in love with him?" asked Humberto Acosta, one of the prosecutors. "No." The woman replied. "Did you fall in love with him?" asked Acosta. "No." "Was this a whirlwind romance?" he asked. "No," the woman replied.

But during cross-examination, the defense attorney showed the jury an e-mail from the alleged victim to Taban and she asked her to read it to the jury.

"First of all I want to thank you for the past days. Even when I do not want to think about the fact that you're a priest you are one. Today I've been thinking a lot about you and I feel horrible because I feel that I know this is not right and you know it too," she read.

The defense and the prosecutors rested. Closing arguments will begin on Wednesday.


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