The Archdiocese of Baltimore has banned a priest from serving or returning to work within the diocese after they say he admitted to sexual abuse of a minor.
The Archdiocese said Fr. Jorge Antonio Velez-Lopez had sexual contact with a teenage girl multiple times beginning in 2007 and possibly continuing into 2010, the last year Velez-Lopez served within the diocese.
The information came to light in January when the victim told the Archdiocese about it, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese said Friday. The Archdiocese says they began looking into it immediately and filed charges with the Howard County Police Department, where Valez-Lopez served at St. John the Evangelist in Columbia from 2003 to 2010.
The victim was a parishioner at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Laurel, the spokesman said.
Valez-Lopez also ministered to members of Spanish-speaking communities at Resurrection of Our Lord, Holy Trinity in Glen Burnie, St. John the Evangelist in Frederick, Sacred Heart in Glyndon and St. Joseph in Cockeysville.
Valez-Lopez joined the Archdiocese of Alexandria in Louisiana in 2010 after his superiors re-assigned him there. The move was unrelated to the abuse, according to Sean Caine, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese.
Valez-Lopez was initially traveling outside the country when officials from the Archdiocese of Baltimore attempted to contact him, Caine said, but a representative from the office of child and youth protection for the Archdiocese of Baltimore met with Velez-lopez in Louisiana on Feb. 11 to discuss the allegations. According to the Archdiocese, he admitted the allegations were true during the meeting.
He has since been banned from both the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Archdiocese of Alexandria, Caine said.
As of Friday, the Archdiocese believed there was only one victim.
"Once we knew the allegation occurred and it was admitted to by Fr. Velez, it was really a matter of disclosing it for the benefit of potentially anybody else who had been harmed," Caine said.
A spokesperson for the Howard County Police Department said there have not been any criminal charges filed in the matter.
The Archdiocese of Alexandria was unable to be reached.
Caine said the Archdiocese wants to know if there are other victims. Anyone with information about the case can call their office of child and youth protection at 410-547-5599 or 1-866-417-7469.