Former Woodland Priest Pleads No Contest to Molestation Charges

Daily Democrat
July 6, 2013

Father Uriel Ojeda meets with several concerned members of the community at his Woodland parish in May 2009. Father Ojeda pleaded no contest to molesting a child on Friday. (Rich Pedronceilli/Associated Press file photograph)

The Rev. Uriel Ojeda, a priest in the Sacramento Roman Catholic diocese, is seen during his arraignment on child molestation charges in Sacramento Superior Court in Sacramento on Dec. 2, 2011. Ojeda has pleaded no contest for molesting a child. (Rich Pedronceilli/Associated Press file photograph)

A former Woodland priest facing several counts of sexually molesting a 13-year-old girl pleaded no contest Friday in Sacramento County Superior Court.

The Rev. Uriel Ojeda pleaded no contest to one of seven counts against him, and now faces an eight-year prison term when he is sentenced Aug. 2, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Prosecutors said the 33-year-old Catholic priest "entered the victim's bedroom at night" at her home in Sacramento and touched her in a lewd and lascivious manner. At the time of the offense, between 2007 and 2009, Ojeda was a priest at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Woodland.

By the time of his arrest in late 2011, Ojeda had moved on to become a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Redding.

On Wednesday, a judge refused to exclude admissions once made by Ojeda to church officials, according to the Bee. Ojeda had hoped that those statements would not be admissible in court due to clergy-penitent privilege.

The plea deal for an eight-year prison term was offered following that ruling.

Prosecutors had said the deal might be taken off the table Friday if Ojeda didn't accept it. He faced 20 years in prison if found guilty of all charges against him.

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