Former El Paso Catholic priest sentenced to 18 years in prison in sexual assault case

By Aaron Martinez
El Paso Times
July 17, 2019

Miguel Luna sits in the sentencing phase of his trial Tuesday, July 16, 2019, after being found guilty Monday of six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child; three counts of indecency with a child, sexual contact; and three counts of sexual assault of a child in the 120th District Court, with Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza presiding.
Photo by Mark Lambie

Miguel Luna

[with video]

A former El Paso Catholic priest was sentenced to 18 years in prison Tuesday after he was convicted the previous day on a dozen sexual abuse charges.

Miguel Luna, 69, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and 10 years in prison on the three counts of sexual assault of a child.

He was also sentenced to 10 years of probation on three counts of indecency with a child.

The sentences will be served concurrently.

Luna was facing up to life in prison on the aggravated sexual charges.

A jury of nine woman and three men reached the sentencing verdict Tuesday. The same jury convicted him Monday on all 12 charges.

The trial was held in the 120th District Court with Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza presiding.

Luna was arrested June 11, 2018, after one of his victims, who is now in her late 30s, reported that the former priest began sexually abusing her when she was 8 years in the 1990s at an El Paso church.

She reported the abuse in 2016 to the El Paso Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit.

The El Paso Times does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

The victim said that when she was 8 years old Luna began "kissing her passionately" during confession, according to a complaint affidavit.

Luna continued to molest the girl as she grew older and began raping her when she was 12 years old, the complaint states.

The church where the abuse occurred is not named in court documents.

Luna had a close relationship with the girl's family, the victim told police. He would pick her up from home and school during the years she was abused, according to the complaint.

He was accused of sexual assaulting several girls at an El Paso church from 1991 to 1998, according to court documents.

Several of Luna’s victims testified during his trial about the abuse and the lasting impact it had on them.

Luna sat feet from the victims Tuesday as they testified but did not make eye contact with them.

One victim called Luna a “monster.” All of the victims testified that they were forever impacted by the alleged rapes including suffering from depression and trust issues.

Luna continued to serve as a priest in El Paso until 2013, Diocese officials said. He was ordained as a priest in 1982.

His current status with the Catholic Dioceses is listed as inactive.

He served in several El Paso churches, including Blessed Sacrament, Corpus Christi, Our Lady of Assumption, San Antonio de Padua and St. Pius.

Luna was one of 30 priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse during their time at the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. The names of the accused priests were released by the diocese Jan. 31.



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