SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Catholic priest from Redding was arraigned Friday on seven charges of child molestation involving a 14-year-old girl.
The Rev. Uriel Ojeda appeared in Sacramento County Superior Court. He did not enter a plea. The courtroom was packed with his supporters. They prayed for him before he entered the courtroom and several cried when they saw him enter in handcuffs, reports CBS13’s Maria Medina.
The 32-year-old priest has been a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mercy parish in Redding since 2009. Before that, he served at a parish in Woodland, and that’s where he got to know the young girl. She came forward to the church with the allegations earlier this week.
“He’s a very, very nice person so hopefully this is just false accusations,” supporter Santos Jaurudei said at the courthouse. “Every time he was involved with kids he was always a good person.”
The charges filed Friday accuse Ojeda of lewd and lascivious acts with a 14-year-old girl on four different dates in 2007 and 2009. He’s accused of molesting the girl in Sacramento in her bedroom, a bathroom and swimming pool between June 2007 and August 2009, according to court documents. The girl is now 16.
Sacramento police arrested Ojeda on Wednesday and the Sacramento Diocese announced news of the arrest Thursday.
Ojeda’s attorney, Jesse Ortiz, asked people not to make judgments until the facts of the case are known. He called Ojeda “a good man who has dedicated his life to helping others.
“I just ask for everybody to slow down a little bit, not rush to judgment, make sure we know everything before we make any judgments against him,” said Ortiz, who met Ojeda through the church.
Ojeda is being held at the Sacramento County Main Jail. Bail was set at $5 million, but Ortiz is expected to push to have it lowered.