Trial Date Set for Priest in Internet Sting Case

Trial Date Set for Priest in Internet Sting Case


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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Trial has been set for a priest nabbed in a sting operation and charged with enticing a minor over the Internet.

Trial on the misdemeanor charge was scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 25-27 for the Rev. Mario Arbelaez Olarte, 44, who had been a priest at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

Olarte was arrested May 14 by the Northern Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

About 75 parishioners showed up in support of Arbelaez during Tuesday's hearing before 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley.

Arbelaez was arrested at a site where he allegedly had arranged in an online chat room for a sexual encounter with a person he thought was a 15-year-old boy, but actually was a police detective working undercover.

Arbelaez's defense attorney said Arbelaez was only doing research on the Internet and had no intention of having sex.

Ordained in 1994 in his native Bogota, Colombia, Arbelaez came to Utah in 1997, and after serving in Midvale was assigned to St. Joseph's in August 2000.

After the arrest, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City stripped Arbelaez of his priestly duties and removed its sponsorship of his work visa.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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