• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

LB priest gets probation in sex charge plea deal

January 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A former Long Beach Catholic priest accepted a plea deal to avoid the possibility of time behind bars.

Jose Luis Cuevas, 68, pleaded no contest to a felony charge of a lewd act on a 14-year-old girl and two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. In exchange, the suspect was sentenced to five years probation Wednesday.

The victims involved were all members of Saint Athanasius Church where the suspect served.

Two of the victims were present in the courtroom Wednesday for the sentencing and asked the prosecutor to read how they've been impacted by Cuevas' action.

"We see life very differently now and spiritually," Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Zapeda read. "Also, we have trust issues as well. We don't see people the same anymore. Thanks a lot for opening our eyes. Now we see the true colors of life. God be with you because you need him more than we do."

Cuevas did not issue an apology to the victims or address the court. His Defense Attorney George Bird said the plea deal allows the 68-year-old to move forward with his life but does not admit he's guilty.

"He's absolutely expressed remorse that these individuals are going through this but his intention was never lewd," Bird said. "It was an innocent intention".

Cuevas was accused of touching the victims' breasts over their clothing while embracing them.

Some members of his church attended the sentencing and said they strongly believe he was falsely accused.

"I believed in my heart that he is innocent," Martha Montes said adding that the congregation is praying for the victims and Cuevas who is no longer a part of the Catholic Church.

She said she knows the court case has changed the lives of everyone involved.

"I feel for the victims, you know, in this case but then I feel for father Jose Luis too," Montes said.

In addition to five years probation, Cuevas will have to register as a sex offender as well as undergo counseling.

Load Comments