PASSAIC - A priest affiliated with two Passaic churches has been arrested on charges he had sexual contact with a minor who sought his counsel.
The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office says charges against Father Jose Lopez include child luring and endangerment and criminal sexual contact.
Prosecutors say Lopez lured a 14 year-old female parishioner to his private quarters at St. Mary's Assumption Church in Passaic, and allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with her.
The victim told authorities she'd gone to Lopez for counseling and he allegedly put her on his lap, kissed her and engaged in sexual contact.
The Colombian-born Lopez is in the United States on a religious worker's visa. He is also affiliated with St. Nicholas Church in Passaic.
The Diocese of Paterson released this statement yesterday:
“As soon as the diocese was informed about the matter involving Father Jose de Jesus Lopez, it contacted the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office. The diocese cooperated fully with the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office in its ongoing investigation. As soon as the diocese was authorized to do so by the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, the diocese immediately placed Father Lopez on administrative leave from his assignment as parochial vicar at St. Mary's and St. Nicholas parishes in Passaic. Father Lopez took up residence in a non-parish church facility where there would be no contact whatsoever with minors. The diocese is deeply saddened by these charges and offers its prayers to those who have come forward in this matter.”