UPDATED AGAIN: Long Beach Priest Arrested on Sexual Assault Charges

fathercuerva

Updated with quote from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at bottom.

A Long Beach parish priest, Father Luis Jose Cuevas of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was arrested Tuesday on sexual assault charges including eight misdemeanor charges of sexual battery and one felony count involving lewd acts with a child.

The victims include two female adults and one 17 year-old female who reported repeated incidents of inappropriate touching over a two-year period, said Long Beach Police Sgt. Aaron Eaton.

The 67 year-old Cuevas lived on the grounds of the St. Athanasius Catholic Church at 5390 Linden Ave. for the last seven years before being releived of his duties last week. According to a statement released by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which was also read to parish members by Father Francis Ilano over the weekend, Cuevas was let go even before the younger victim came forward.

“This week, the Archdiocese took action to remove Father Cuevas from all ministry and he will be living privately pending the outcome of these matters,” the statement said.

Cuevas was arrested by LBPD on Tuesday with the assistance of the United States Marshal’s Office at a residence in the City of San Jacinto, police said. He is being held on $1,000,000 bail while he awaits arraignment in Long Beach on Wednesday.

In April, the Long Beach Police Department received information from the two adult victims, who say they initially reported the incidents to the Archdiocese. After an investigation, during which the 17 year-old victim came forward, the LBPD presented the case to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office on July 19. The D.A’s Office subsequently filed charges.

It is unclear whether or not the Archdiocese acted on any of these reports prior to police involvement, however, in their statement said they are cooperating with the ongoing law enforcement preceedings.

“The Archdiocese takes all such matters seriously and considers both allegations to be credible,” it said.

Court documents also show that there are 16 other sexual battery charges that can’t be filed against the suspect because the statute of limitations has run out.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is requesting that anyone with information concerning either of these allegations, or any other possible incidents, please contact Suzanne Healy, the director of the archdiocesan Office of Victims Assistance Ministry at 213-637-7650.

UPDATE Wednesday, 6:00PM | In response to the fact that it was unclear whether or not the Archdiocese acted on any of the allegations prior to police involvement, Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Director of Media Relations Carolina Guevara sent the following statement:

When the Archdiocese received the allegations by the adults, since they were adults, they were advised to contact law enforcement. As per our protocol, an announcement was made at the parish concerning the allegations of misconduct made by the adults and that Father Cuevas was being relieved of his duties pending the results of an investigation into the allegations. After that announcement was made at the parish, the Archdiocese received an allegation concerning a minor.  That allegation was reported to the authorities on the same day the allegation was received, and a representative from the Archdiocese accompanied the minor and a family member to the police station that day.

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.
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