Jury Hung in Daly City Priest's Molestation Trial
Priest Found Not Guilty of Three Counts, No Verdict on 18 Other Charges

By Tim Hay
San Mateo County Times
September 18, 2004

Former Daly City priest Jose Superiaso was found not guilty Friday of three counts of committing lewd acts with a child.

The jury, which deliberated for days and asked for a rereading of most of the relevant testimony in the case, deadlocked on 18 other molestation charges.

But the 50-year-old man will likely stay in jail at least until Oct. 7, when prosecutors will announce whether or not they will try again for a conviction. His bail has been reduced to $2.5 million.

Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said prosecutors aren't even discussing yet whether or not to retry the case.

"Never make a decision now. Wait a week or two, get some perspective on it," Wagstaffe said.

Superiaso, who was a priest at St. Andrews Catholic Church, was charged with having sex numerous times with a female parishioner who was under 14 in 1995 and 1996.

The girl who brought the charges -- identified in court records only as Jane Doe -- reported the alleged crimes to police in May, 2003.

Police got the girl to cooperate in a sting operation the next month. She got Superiaso to leave New Mexico, where he had moved, to meet her in a Daly city coffee shop.

Officers nabbed him when he arrived.

According to prosecutor Sharon Henry, Superiaso had a letter with him that he intended to give the girl, reading in part, "I come here fully resigned to accept responsibility and beg your forgiveness and understanding..."

Henry was not available for comment Friday.

The priest had been a friend of the girl's family and often babysat at their home.

Though the testimony of the alleged victim -- who is now 22 -- was convincing, defense attorney Ray Buenaventura got her to admit that her memory of specific dates was a bit hazy.

In some cases, events could have taken place later than she told investigators, she conceded.

This, Buenaventura said, threw off the prosecution's case completely, as Superiaso was specifically charged with molesting a child under the age of 14. If she was 14 or 15 when certain events happened, they had to throw out the charges, he argued.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.