LONG BEACH (CBS) — A former Catholic priest facing nine sexual assault charges pleaded not guilty on Wednesday at the Long Beach Superior Court.

Father Luis Jose Cuevas, 67, is charged with one felony count involving lewd acts with a child and eight misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Two female congregants initially came forward and reported the alleged sex crimes to the Archdiocese in April and filed a police report with the Long Beach Police Department. During the investigation, a teenager came forward and reported alleged inappropriate touching by Cuevas.

The alleged sex crimes occurred between July 2010 and February of this year.

Cuevas was a priest for seven years at St. Athanasius Catholic Church, located at 5390 Linden Avenue and also lived on the church grounds when the alleged crimes took place, according to Long Beach Police.

On Monday, with the help of the U.S. Marshall’s Office, officers from the Long Beach Police Department arrested Cuevas at a residence in San Jacinto.

According to a statement read during services at St. Athanasius over the weekend, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles says it “took action to remove Father Cuevas from all ministry.”

Cuevas has a bail set at $260,000 and is due back at the Long Beach Superior Court on Aug. 7.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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