Former Aurora Priest Agreed to Deportation to Avoid Sexual Abuse Trial, Prosecutors Say
By Dan Campana
August 24, 2017
|Alfredo Pedraza-Arias (Kane County Sheriff's Office)|
Former Aurora priest Alfredo Pedraza-Arias asked a federal judge in June for a "voluntary removal" from the United States, a decision Kane County prosecutors suggest he made to evade a trial on charges of sexually abusing two young girls.
That allegation by prosecutors is contained in a third motion seeking to have 51-year-old Arias' bail revoked in order to delay his deportation until after he stands trial beginning Sept. 18.
Arias has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse stemming from an investigation that authorities said revealed he fondled the girls — who were under the age of 6 — at Aurora's Sacred Heart Church between 2012 and 2014.
Arias, charged in 2016, returns to court Friday for a third hearing on his bail.
Twice since early July Kane County Judge Linda Abrahamson has raised Arias' bail amount at the request of prosecutors in light of the fact Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials took Arias into custody in May as he left a hearing at the Kane County Judicial Center.
At a June federal hearing, Arias asked the judge to remove him from the country, which prompted the judge to issue a deportation order. Kane County prosecutors learned about that request and moved forward with the new motion, court records show.
"By agreeing to voluntary removal, (Arias) is in essence attempting to flee the jurisdiction and avoid trial in the case," Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Reagan Pittman wrote in the latest motion. "At no time did (Arias) request a stay of his deportation proceedings to resolve his current pending criminal charges. (Arias) is trying to use his deportation to avoid trial in this case and is trying to flee the jurisdiction."
Pittman also noted that Arias at one point requested a continuance of a trial date scheduled for July 5, the motion states.
Earlier this month, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said Arias' temporary religious worker non-immigrant visa was revoked in September 2016 as a result of his indictment.
He was taken into custody while free on his original $50,000 bail. Abrahamson hiked the bail by $100,000 in July, but someone posted Arias' bond within days, which landed the Rockford resident back in custody of immigration officials.
A second request to increase or revoke bail by prosecutors followed soon after to which Abrahamson raised the bail by another $100,000. Arias has remained in the Kane County Jail since July 28, records show.
Prosecutors believe they'll have a better chance to keep Arias in the country for a trial as long as he is held locally, but acknowledged uncertainty as to what would happen if someone posts his bond, and if he is deported.
Dan Campana is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News