Jury Trial Set for Salinas Priest Accused of Molesting Teen

By Sunita Vijayan
The Californian
January 6, 2011

A Monterey County judge on Wednesday set a jury trial date for a Salinas priest accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

The trial for the Rev. Antonio Cortes of St. Mary of the Nativity Church is scheduled to begin April 18.

Attorneys are still trying to resolve the case without having to proceed to a trial, and have set another hearing for Feb. 23.

Cortes, 42, was ordered to stand trial on felony charges of sodomy with a minor and misdemeanor counts of possession of child pornography. He was placed on paid administrative leave after his arrest on April 16, 2009. His arrest came two days after a boy made the molestation claims to Salinas police.

Cortes has been out on bail since his preliminary hearing in October 2009.

Court records show that Cortes first met the boy when the teen was 13-years-old. At the time, records show, Cortes was working as the parish priest of the Holy Trinity Church in Greenfield. The teen told police that he and his family left for Calexico, Mexico soon after but returned to live in Salinas in April 2007, court records show. Cortes had since moved on to become parish priest of St. Mary's, where the boy did community service hours upon his return to the county.

As in past court appearances, more than a dozen of Cortes' supporters showed up at his hearing on Wednesday.


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