Father Julio Guarin-Sosa arrested on charges of molestation of a minor, sexual battery and illegal entry in Yuba City.
YUBA CITY, CA - A visiting priest arrested on accusations he behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner with a 16-year-old-girl admits he kissed her near her mouth, but did not French-kiss her as sheriff's investigators claim.
Father Julio Guarin-Sosa of Colombia talked at Sutter County Jail where he is being held on no bail. He was arrested Sunday on booking charges of molestation of a minor, sexual battery and illegal entry.
The allegations stem from an incident at a private home in Yuba City on Saturday, where the priest had been called to perform a private mass.
Guarin-Sosa said he was asked by the family to speak to one of children privately. He and the girl went into a bedroom where they sat on a bed and held hands in prayer, he said. After talking for about 15 minutes, Guarin-Sosa claimed they stood up, he hugged her and kissed her on the side of her cheek near her mouth.
In an exclusive interview, Guarin-Sosa said he kissed the girl on the side of her cheek, near the corner of her mouth.
"I never tried to do nothing sexual with her," Guarin-Sosa said.
He said the girl looked uncomfortable so he asked her not to say anything to her parents.
The priest had been brought to Yuba City from Lodi where he serves at St. Anne's Church. The Diocese of Stockton has suspended Guarin-Sosa from serving in their ministry.
Diocese Bishop Stephen E. Blaire said the Guarin-Sosa had received a letter of good standing from his diocese in Columbia prior to coming to St. Anne's. The diocese in Colombia has been informed of the accusations, according to Blaire.
Tuesday afternoon, church members reacted to the allegations.
"We just saw him when we would come to mass with the kids," church member Greg Soligan said. "He just seemed like a nice person."
"It is a misunderstanding," said Jesus, another church member who would only give his first name. "It's unfortunate people are taking that avenue, if I can put it that way."
Church member Sandy Luz said the priest's actions could have been misconstrued. She also said that adults are much more sensitive now when they are around children.
"We don't touch children or even give them hugs in school anymore, as much as we'd like to," Luz said.
James Savage of Lodi said his wife was molested in the 1970s by Father Oliver O'Grady while she was attending the academy at St. Anne's Parish. He believes the accusations against Guarin Sosa could be true.
"It's absolutely possible because it happened to my wife!" Savage said.
Savage's wife filed a lawsuit against O'Grady.
"We lost 5 to 2, so apparently, it was a statue of limitations issue," Savage's wife said.
In reaction to the latest allegations involving another priest, Savage's wife said, "It makes me angry, very angry. People are being hurt and it ruins lives, not just life of person it happens to, but the people love the person. It's just wrong."
Guarin-Sosa's arraignment was to continue Friday at 9 a.m. in Sutter County Superior Court.