LONG BEACH (CBS) — A former Catholic priest was sentenced to five years of felony probation Wednesday after pleading no contest to three sexual misconduct charges.
Father Luis Jose Cuevas, 68, will avoid prison time in the deal, but must also register as a sex offender and undergo counseling as part of his sentence.
Last year, Cuevas pleaded no contest to reduced charges of one felony count of lewd acts upon a child and two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.
The alleged sex crimes in the case occurred between July 2010 and February 2012.
“The reality is that the recent allegations and the resurfacing of the priest molestation scandal from over 20 years ago . . . is that this is a very tough time to try a case like this when the issue is one of intent,” Cuevas’s attorney George Bird said.
Two 19-year-old women and one 14-year-old girl said Cuevas touched their breasts while he hugged them at St. Athanasius Catholic Church, located at 5390 Linden Avenue, in Long Beach.
All three victims were congregation members.
“We see life very differently now and spiritually. Also, we have trust issues as well,” a statement read in court by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office said. “We don’t see people the same anymore…. God be with you because you need him more than we do.”
The Arch Diocese of Los Angeles has removed Cuevas from the ministry.
Cuevas was arrested in July at his San Jacinto residence.