JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — A three-judge panel found a Catholic priest in Juarez guilty of sexually abusing a choir girl when she was 8, Chihuahua state officials said. .
On Monday afternoon, judges found Reverend Aristeo Baca guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of aggravated sexual abuse. The abuses allegedly took place inside the parish of Santa Maria de la Montana in southern Juarez between December 2015 and January 2018, the state attorney general’s office said.
The investigation began when the girl’s parents called the police after their daughter refused to return to church in early 2019. Police psychologists and medical staff determined the girl had suffered a sexual assault, the AG’s office said in a statement.
Baca denied the charges, although the prosecutor claimed he once asked the girl’s father for forgiveness.
“The evidence presented during the trial shows that the defendant breached trust and took advantage of the access he had to the victim,” the AG’s office said.
The same three-judge panel that found him guilty will sentence Baca on March 1. He faces up to 80 years in prison.
Several Baca supporters showed up outside the courtroom throughout the trial with signs proclaiming his innocence. However, women’s rights groups such as Red Mesa de Mujeres celebrated her sentencing.
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