Church Reinstates Priest after Guilty Plea

By Diana Guevara and R. Stickney
NBC San Diego
June 5, 2012

[with video]

A Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a woman earlier this year has been reinstated, at the same San Diego parish.

Father Jose Alexis Davila was quietly reinstated a few weeks ago after another priest left the parish.

Davila, 53, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault six months ago. He had been preaching at St. Jude's Church in Southcrest for just two months before his arrest.

He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery for allegedly groping a woman at his home.

According to St. Jude Catholic Church's website and the church's office, Davila is now associate pastor.

Despite Davila's conviction, some parishioners still support him.

"No they're all lies, all lies," said Guillermina Nava. "The girl was lying because she wanted to go on a trip and since he wouldn't lend her money she told him, you'll pay for this.

Others find it shocking to have just now learned that Davila was facing sexual abuse allegations to begin with.

"The church doesn't want to say stuff," parishioner Jose Sanchez said. "It's like the government, you know, when they don't want to say something they just want to cover it."

Attorney Irwin Zalkin specializes in clergy sexual abuse cases.

"If you're not guilty, you don't plead guilty," he said of the Davila case.

Right now Zalkin is still in a battle with the San Diego Catholic Diocese for documents detailing years of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

He believes the church's decision to reinstate Davila is irresponsible.

"It shows the disregard that they have for the severity of these kinds of issues."

Davila is currently serving three years' probation as part of his guilty plea. He also must complete 150 hours of volunteer work.


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