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New Jersey priest accused of sexual contact with 14-year-old parishioner

July 25, 2013 8:11:26 PM PDT
A trusted priest is accused of molesting a teenager on church grounds.

He's accused of luring the victim into his living quarters at a church in Passaic.

Father Jose Lopez is out on $50,000 bail.

He's accused of luring one of his parishioners, a 14-year-old girl, into his private living quarters where prosecutors allege he had criminal sexual contact with her.

The alleged victim's uncle says their family was committed to the Catholic Church, but now he says their faith has been tested.

"She's doing bad. She was really doing really bad," the girl's uncle said, "This is really bad for all of us are Catholic."

The teen claims it happened at Saint Mary's Church in Passaic back in January.

The alleged victim says she was talking to the priest about her personal problems.

She claims Father Lopez put his hand in her lap, kissed her, and then engaged in sexual contact.

The girl told authorities that she attempted to get up off the couch multiple times; however, each time Lopez pulled her back.

Investigators say she managed to get away.

Carmen Maldonado told Eyewitness News in Spanish this has to be investigated thoroughly.

She's been a parishioner for four years and knows Father Lopez very well, saying he's an excellent spiritual advisor.

We tried finding Father Lopez at a non-parish property in Chester, New Jersey, but no one answered the door.

Many in this predominantly Latino community say this news is painful to hear.

"They're all nice to everybody with kids they hug and kiss them. No problem. (So you're having a hard time believing this?) It's hard. My son was baptized here," said Gabriel Nunez, a parishioner.

Father Lopez is charged with Luring a Child, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Criminal Sexual Contact.

The priest, a native of Columbia in the United States on a religious worker's visa, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.


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