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Long Beach priest accused of sexually assaulting girl, 2 women

July 25, 2012 | 11:08 am

Father Luis Jose Cuevas chargedA Roman Catholic priest who worked at a Long Beach church was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on charges he sexually groped a 14-year-old girl and two women in incidents that started two years ago.

Father Luis Jose Cuevas, 67, of St. Athanasius Church on Linden Avenue was to face eight misdemeanor charges of sexual assault and one felony count involving lewd acts with a child, according to a complaint filed by the L.A. County district attorney's office.

He was arrested Monday in San Jacinto and was being held on $1-million bail pending his arraignment in a Long Beach court, said Long Beach Police Department spokesman Sgt. Aaron Eaton.

The two adult women, both 20, initially reported the alleged incidents to the archdiocese and then filed a police report, Eaton said. During the investigation, the teenager came forward and alleged repeated incidents during which Cuevas inappropriately touched “an intimate part” of her body for his own sexual arousal, the complaint contends.

The felony and six of the lesser charges involve the teenager, who was 14 during the first alleged incident in July 2010, according to the complaint. The two charges involving the adult women date back to February 2012. All of the incidents allegedly occurred at the church, where Cuevas served and lived for seven years until his recent removal from duties.

An employee answering the telephone at the church said Wednesday that no one at the parish could talk about the allegations and were told to refer all questions to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Cuevas remains a priest but is not allowed to performed any ministry duties, according to archdiocese spokeswoman Caroline Guevara.

In a statement that was read at the church’s weekend masses, the archdiocese said it “takes all such matters seriously and considers both allegations to be credible. 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.”

Investigators believe “there is a possibility that other victims may be out there,” Eaton said.

Police are urging any other victims or anyone with information about the case to call the Sex Crimes Detail’s Tip Line at (562) 570-7878. Anonymous tips may be submitted by visiting www.tipsoft.com.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is requesting that anyone with information about the allegations or other incidents to contact the archdiocesan Office of Victims Assistance Ministry at (213) 637-7650.

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-- Larry Gordon

Photo: Luis Jose Cuevas. Credit: Long Beach Police Department

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