Salinas Priest Sentenced to 1 Year in Jail, Probation in Molestation of Boy

By Sunita Vijayan
Salinas Californian
May 4, 2011

The Rev. Antonio Cortes is led away by a Monterey County Sheriff's deputy this morning following his sentencing. The Salinas clergyman was sentenced to a year in county jail and three years probation for sodomizing and molesting a teenage boy in 2009. / Conner Jay/The Salinas Californian

A Salinas priest was sentenced this morning to a year in jail and probation for sodomizing and molesting a teenage boy two years ago.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Terrance Duncan handed down the judgment nearly two months after the Rev. Antonio Cortes, 43, pleaded no contest to 14 counts of sodomy, child molestation, possession of child pornography, furnishing liquor to a minor, child endangerment and immoral acts in the presence of a minor.

The sodomy and possession of child pornography counts are felonies while the balance of charges are misdemeanors.

Shortly after his conviction, Cortes – who has been out of custody – was led away in handcuffs by sheriff’s deputies.

Duncan, in his remarks, told Cortes that right after his sentence is served he will be transported to a federal prison where he will face deportation.

At the time of his arrest in April 2009, Cortes was a priest at St. Mary of the Nativity Church in Salinas. He had meet the boy when the teen was 13-year-old while working as a parish priest of the Holy Trinity Church in Greenfield.

As part of his sentence, Cortes will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.

Before the sentence was handed down, the boy, now 16, read a statement before the judge – asking for a fair sentence. The boy stated that a year in jail and probation wasn’t enough in light of the pain he and his family has suffered.

Miguel Hernandez, one of Cortes’ private Salinas’s attorneys, said after the hearing that it’s likely his client will be released in six months.

With his conviction, Cortes faces being defrocked by the Roman Catholic Church. The Diocese of Monterey has said that it plans to submit Cortes’ case to Vatican City in accordance to the church-law process.

While still receiving funds for living expenses, Cortes remains suspended and hasn’t functioned as a priest since his arrest in 2009.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.