Aurora Priest Charged with Child Abuse, Facing Deportation Won't Have to Register As Sex Offender in Plea Deal
By Hannah Leone
Beacon News and Chicago Tribune
February 9, 2018
|Alfredo Pedraza Arias (Kane County Sheriff's Office)|
An Aurora priest who was charged with sexually abusing two young girls pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor that does not require him to register as a sex offender.
Even if it did, he'd still face deportation to his native Colombia — one of the reasons his trial had been rescheduled so many times. Set for Feb. 20, the trial was likely about to be pushed again, according to a recent court order and the priest's lawyer.
Alfredo Pedraza Arias was sentenced to 205 days in county jail with credit for time served after his guilty plea. With credit for time already spent in jail, Arias was set to be released Saturday morning, Attorney David Camic said.
Kane County jail records showed Arias was released as scheduled on Saturday at 7:07 a.m., and, Kane County Sheriff spokesman Lt. Patrick Gengler confirmed that he was released to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities.
"We made this decision after a through analysis of the evidence, communication with the victims' families and assurances that the defendant would be removed from the United States," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said through a spokesman Friday afternoon.
Arias, now 51, lost his temporary religious worker visa after he was charged with sexually abusing two girls at Sacred Heart Church in Aurora and at one of the girls' homes between 2012 and 2014. Arias had previously pleaded not guilty to a five-count indictment.
On Friday, he pleaded guilty to battery, a class A misdemeanor, in a deal that explicitly does not require him to register as a sex offender, though it does put him on sex offender probation for 24 months and stipulates he would have to comply with a sex offender evaluation and treatment, if so ordered.
Kane County Circuit Judge Linda Abrahamson, who has been presiding over the case, accepted the plea. Court documents related to the deal were not available Friday, but both the State's Attorney's Office and Camic confirmed the details. Camic said he suggested a plea about a week ago, and the parties agreed on Wednesday.
Without the guilty plea, Camic said it appeared certain the trial would have been continued again "because we were about to file some additional pretrial motions."
Camic said the plea is supported by the facts in the case, and that Arias "did not commit a criminal sexual offense."
Arias, who was also assigned $410 in costs, is to have no contact with either victim or their immediate family members.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, Nicole Alberico, said in an email Friday that for operational and security reasons, the group wouldn't publicly discuss any future enforcement actions.
Immigration officials first arrested Arias at the county's St. Charles courthouse while he was free on bond after a hearing in May. An immigration judge ordered him voluntarily deported in June, and Kane County prosecutors sought a series of bail and custody orders in an effort to keep him here for trial.
The first time Abrahamson increased Arias' bail, it was posted within days, landing him back in the custody of immigration officials until the judge increased bail again. He's been back in the jail since July 28.
If Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn't pick him up first, Arias will stay with friends once he is released, Camic said.