Parishioners rally around priest accused of sexual assault - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Parishioners rally around priest accused of sexual assault

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SAN DIEGO (CNS/CBS 8) - A Catholic priest who ministers at a Southcrest church is facing a sexual assault charge for allegedly forcing himself on a 20-year- old woman at his home, authorities reported Tuesday.

Jose Davila, 53, an associate pastor at St. Jude's Shrine of the West on Boston Avenue, turned himself in to San Diego police on Sunday, two days after the alleged crime, SDPD Lt. Anastasia Smith said.

He is accused of assaulting the woman, whom he has known for several months, while she was visiting his residence Friday morning, according to Smith.

The alleged victim went home and told her family about the alleged assault, then called the police to file a report.

Officials declined to say if the woman is a member of Davila's congregation.

Davila was booked into county jail on suspicion of sexual assault. He was released on bail about 12:30 a.m. Monday, a jail clerk said.

Parishioners refused to believe the charges against Father Davila, who they described as well-respected and deeply commited to his faith.

"[He is] a genuinely nice person," said Delia Baez. "A person you can talk to... a spiritual advisor."

"He is complete innocent," added parishioner Umberto Morales. "This is something dirty... against him and the Catholic Church."

Police say they conducted a thorough investigation before taking Davila into custody Sunday morning.

"It is always concerning to the community and the police department when a person who is in a position of trust and authority over others commits this kind of offense," said Lt. Anastasia Smith of the San Diego Police Sex Crimes Unit.

"You don't want to judge... You don't want to be judged," said Baez. "So we put it in God's hands, as our faith tells us to."

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