Priest accused of sexually assaulting woman pleads not guilty to - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Priest accused of sexually assaulting woman pleads not guilty to misdemeanor charges

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at his home the day before New Year's Eve pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three misdemeanor charges.

Jose Davila, 53, also known as Father Alexis, faces a maximum 18 months in jail if convicted, said Deputy City Attorney Mark Skeels.

Davila's attorney, Maria Roberts, appeared on his behalf during the brief arraignment hearing in San Diego Superior Court.

The defendant -- charged with three counts of sexual battery -- remains free on $100,000 bail.

Skeels told Commissioner Corinne Miesfeld that the defendant is accused of touching the victim in three areas against her will on Dec. 30. He touched her buttocks, put his finger in her vagina and touched her left breast, the prosecutor alleged.

Police said the alleged assault happened at Davila's home in Southcrest while the two were alone. The defendant turned himself in two days later.

The alleged victim, now 20, told police that she and Davila -- an associate pastor at St. Jude's Shrine of the West -- had been acquaintances for several months.

A large group of supporters jammed the courtroom for Davila's arraignment.

"We're all behind him, we believe in his innocence," supporter Mary Esquivel said outside the courtroom. "The truth is going to come out soon."

Another supporter, Maribel Lee of Oceanside, said Davila is a good friend.

"I don't understand what happened," she told reporters.

Miesfeld set a Jan. 24 readiness conference and March 19 trial date.

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