A national victims group wants a local Catholic priest removed from his parish.
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Father Jose Alexis Davila has been a parish priest at St. Jude's in Southcrest for two years. Earlier this year, a 19-year-old woman accused him of fondling her in his home across the street from the church.
"He has pleaded guilty to sexual assaulting a young woman," said Joelle Casteix, a spokeswoman for group Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. "I believe the charge was unlawfully touching her intimate parts."
SNAP sent a letter to Diocese of San Diego Bishop Robert Brom after learning Davila is still saying masses at St. Jude's.
"They are implicitly saying that it's okay to hurt people and you can get your job back," said Casteix.
Casteix said Davila should not be allowed near women or the children who attend mass and the day care center connected to the church. She said allowing the priest back into the church excuses his behavior and discourages others from reporting abuse.
"It's created an atmosphere that is a definite threat to any child who attends church at that parish or who goes to that preschool," she said.
Parishioner Mary Esquivel told 10News, "He is not a danger to children or women."
Esquivel has known Davila since he came to St. Jude's. She does not believe the charges and said the parish welcomed Davila back with open arms.
"Five or ten masses a day
they're full, packed," she said. "You cannot sit anywhere because theyre packed."
The Diocese of San Diego issued this statement to 10News:
"The Diocese of San Diego and Father Alexis Davila have fully cooperated with law enforcement and all legitimate and pastoral concerns have been addressed as regards his case. Consequently, we have no reason to believe that women or children are at risk because of his return to ministry."
"I am shocked," said Casteix. "It is a flagrant and reckless disregard for the safety and welfare of any vulnerable person at that parish."
Casteix said it was Esquivel and other members of the church who apparently tried to get the 19-year-old victim to recant her story. Casteix called it a "mob mentality."
"They threatened her, they kicked the mother out of Bible study and they harassed her family," said Casteix.
Esquivel said SNAP only knows what it reads in the paper and does not know Davila.
"If these people from SNAP want to come talk to me, I'm here," she said. "I'll be inside St. Jude today."
SNAP said it will do anything to get Davila out of St. Jude's including distributing leaflets, hosting meetings and petitioning the state.
"He needs to be put in a remote and secure facility where he can work with other priests," said Casteix.
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