Former Seminarian Sentenced in Assault

By Daniel Tepfer
Connecticut Post
May 20, 2005

BRIDGEPORT — A former seminary student, convicted of molesting a 16-year-old girl, was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in prison.

And while Superior Court Judge Heidi Winslow ordered Leonardo Montoya to undergo sex offender treatment and have no unsupervised contact with children, she refused to order him to register as a sex offender.

"The court does not view him as a threat at this time," she said.

Montoya, 30, has been working at the McDonald's restaurant in Monroe since he was found guilty by a jury in January of fourth-degree sexual assault.

His lawyer, Leonard Crone Jr., said an appeal is not planned. "All things considered, the sentence was not unfair," he said.

Montoya, who was dismissed from the seminary by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport just before his arrest, had faced up to a year in prison.

Calling Montoya a predator who ingratiated himself into the life of his victim and her family on the pretext of providing them with spiritual guidance, Assistant State's Attorney Pamela Esposito urged the judge to send him to prison.

"This incident has shattered the family and caused the young victim great anguish," she said.

While the judge agreed with the prosecutor's assessment of the incident, she imposed a more lenient sentence on Montoya of a one-year prison term, suspended after 90 days, and followed by three years probation.

Montoya, formerly assigned to St. Augustine's Cathedral and churches in Trumbull and Norwalk, is accused of molesting the girl, whose family he met through the church, while visiting their Bridgeport home in November 2003.

The girl's family met Montoya while he was working at St. Augustine's and befriended him after he helped them with arrangements for a baptism.

The molestation took place Nov. 29, 2003, when Montoya, an overnight guest at the family's home, entered the sleeping girl's bedroom, pulled back the covers and began rubbing her genitals, the prosecutor said.

The girl was so traumatized that she had to be hospitalized for a short period.

Montoya, taking the stand in his defense, denied that he was drunk during the incident or had molested the girl.

Police said the victim's family told them Montoya had been married in his native Colombia and worked as a police officer there.

Montoya, who was in his third year of a four-year ordination program, was dismissed on Jan. 15, 2004, after police notified the diocese of the investigation.

According to the diocese, Montoya entered the St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford in September 2000 and Blessed John XXIII Major Seminary in Weston, Mass., in September 2001. He interned at St. Augustine's, St. Stephen's Church in Trumbull and St. Mary's Parish in Norwalk.


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