A priest visiting from Colombia and arrested on suspicion of sexual battery and molestation of a teenage girl in Yuba City must turn over his passport, Sutter Superior Court Judge Susan Green ruled Tuesday.
Her decision came after a deputy district attorney said in court that the Rev. Julio Cesar Guarin-Sosa, 43, had insisted to the jail staff that if he posted bail he would fly to Colombia.
"He's not necessarily willing to stay and face the charges," Deputy District Attorney Jacquelyn Stenson said.
Green's ruling requires the priest to turn his passport over to the court as a condition of bail.
Attorney Markus Dombois, representing Guarin-Sosa, said remarks by the priest about making his flight didn't involve his trying to leave the country, but Guarin-Sosa's concerns about missing his booked air travel. "He's a man who follows schedules and strict routines," Dombois said.
Guarin-Sosa's arraignment was continued to Friday in Sutter Superior Court after Dombois asked to delay the matter.
The attorney said outside the courtroom that the case might be spurious and could involve a cultural misunderstanding.
"He comes from a different culture where people hug each other and kiss each other," Dombois said.
Guarin-Sosa was arrested at the Lodi Police Department on Saturday and was booked into Sutter County jail the next day, along with an immigration hold. His bail was set at $250,000.
Yuba City police said Guarin-Sosa was in town Friday to perform Mass at a home, when he came in contact with the 16-year-old. It's alleged that he had inappropriate contact with her during that visit, according to police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey.
The incident was reported to authorities on Saturday.
Pavey said police are looking into the extent of the family's relationship with Guarin-Sosa, but officials believe he was invited by the family to do the Mass.
"As a result of the charges, Father Guarin's permission to exercise ministry in the Diocese of Stockton has been revoked. His diocese in Colombia has been informed," a news release from the Diocese of Stockton stated.
The Diocese of Stockton said the priest was helping at St. Anne's Parish in Lodi.
A statement from the diocese said Bishop Stephen Blaire had received a letter of good standing from Guarin-Sosa's diocese in Colombia.