FREMONT (CBS SF) — A Catholic priest has been arrested on suspicion of 30 counts of suspected child sexual abuse in Alameda County, authorities said Sunday.
The Rev. Hector David Mendoza-Vela, parochial administrator of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Fremont, is in custody at Santa Rita Jail, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. The alleged abuse involved one victim age 14 or 15 over an 18-month period starting in 2016 when Mendoza-Vela was assigned to St. John the Baptist Church in San Lorenzo.
The abuse occurred in the victim’s home in unincorporated Hayward, sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said.
Authorities are unaware of any other child victims and the case has been referred to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
Oakland Bishop Michael Barber said in a letter posted on the Corpus Christi Church website that the alleged behavior by Mendoza-Vela “is in clear violation of the Diocese’s code of conduct and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
He said that while the allegations are being investigated Mendoza-Vela “may not present himself in public as a priest nor engage in any priestly ministry.”
Mendoza-Vela, 42, was born in El Salvador and came to the United States, where he is a legal resident, in 2008, according to a statement by the diocese. Ordained as a priest in 2013, he has served as parochial administrator at Corpus Christi since 2016.
Barber said in his letter he would appoint a temporary administrator for the parish as soon as possible.
“I ask you to join with me in prayers for all involved in this situation, but most especially anyone who has been harmed,” he wrote.
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