Extradition of Priest to Be Sought

Appeal-Democrat and wire service reports [Marysville Yuba City, Calif.]
March 19, 2005

Yuba County District Attorney Pat McGrath said he will seek the extradition of a priest convicted of sexually molesting a minor in 1989, now that the Rev. Jose Luis Urbina has been discovered serving as a priest in Mexico.

Urbina fled the country after his 1989 conviction in a Yuba County court and later served for about a decade at his hometown parish in Navojoa, Mexico, the Dallas Morning News reported in its ongoing series on accused Roman Catholic priests who are now working in other countries.

"We will start exploring extradition for Mr. Urbina immediately," McGrath said.

Urbina, now 51, left Yuba County before then-Municipal Judge James F. Dawson could sentence him. He had been released on $2,500 bail.

Urbina served in the Yuba-Sutter area from about 1979 until 1984, living in the rectory at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Yuba City and working at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Marysville.

In 2003, a then-33-year-old Yuba City man sued Urbina and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, alleging that Urbina molested him from 1980 to 1986, when he turned 17. The suit is pending in Sacramento County Superior Court.

In one instance, Urbina allegedly pointed a gun at the boy before molesting him.

The victim's family seldom discussed the molestation over the years. But then the victim became infuriated after reading a news account of Urbina's trial and decided to file the lawsuit, according to his Sacramento lawyer, Joseph C. George.

The newspaper also reported that another former Sacramento diocesan priest under investigation for child molestation is working in a remote region in southern Mexico. The Rev. Garardo Beltran disappeared in 1991 after Sacramento police began investigating allegations that he molested two young girls.

The two priests have been wanted by local authorities for more than a decade.

Beltran was charged with four counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14, according to the affidavit with an arrest warrant issued in 1992 by a Sacramento judge.

Lana Wyant, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County district attorney's office, said the agency would consider extradition if local police requested it.

Extraditing someone from Mexico "is a long process, but it can be done and in fact has been done," Wyant said.

Diocesan officials said they were surprised to learn that Urbina and Beltran are serving as priests.

"The bishop is very angry," said Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for Bishop William K. Weigand. "As far as he is concerned, both of them are fugitives."

After learning of the priests' whereabouts, Weigand contacted church officials at the Vatican and in Mexico and reported his concerns, Eckery said.

"He's made it clear that these men are not supposed to be functioning as priests," Eckery said.


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