Trio Wants "Confession" of Redding Priest Charged with Molestation

By Jim Schultz
Record Searchlight
June 7, 2012

A trio representing a network of people sexually abused by priests staged a quiet demonstration Thursday outside the Sacramento Roman Catholic Diocese headquarters in an effort to convince church leaders to make public a suspended Redding priest's reported confession to a church-paid investigator that he molested a teenage girl.

The Rev. Uriel Ojeda, who is charged with seven felony counts of child molestation, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing today in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Joelle Casteix, western regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said she and two others staged the small demonstration and were able to deliver a letter to a spokesman for Bishop James Soto asking him to make Ojeda's alleged confession public.

Casteix said in a telephone conversation she and others in her group decided to hold the demonstration after growing alarmed at the number of Ojeda's vocal supporters who have been attending his court hearings and holding prayer vigils since his arrest last year.

She said she's worried such shows of support might stop those who have been molested by priests from reporting the abuse to authorities.

"What victim of abuse is going to come forward?" she asked. "These parishioners are unintentionally scaring and silencing victims and witnesses."

The letter also encourages Soto to attend today's scheduled hearing and criticizes him for reportedly encouraging abuse victims to contact church officials instead of law enforcement.

A spokesman for the diocese could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Ojeda, who was the assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Redding, was arrested on Nov. 30 after surrendering to law enforcement officials in Sacramento County. The diocese reported it had received a complaint from a parishioner's family.

Originally held in Sacramento County jail in lieu of $5 million bail, he was released in January after his bail was reduced to $700,000.

He is accused of seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a teenage girl over a two-year span starting when she was 14 in Sacramento and Shasta counties, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint alleges that the first three incidents, all in the victim's bedroom in Sacramento County, took place between June 29, 2007, and June 30, 2009.

Four other incidents are alleged to have occurred in a swimming pool, a bathroom and a bedroom in Shasta County between July 1, 2009, and Aug. 30, 2009, according to the criminal complaint.

According to the first count in the criminal complaint, Ojeda allegedly entered the girl's bedroom in Sacramento County and touched her inappropriately.

The seven-count complaint also alleges he fondled the girl and kissed her during later encounters with her in Sacramento County.








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