Arrested Priest May be Deported

Arrested Priest May be Deported


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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- The Rev. Mario Arbelaez Olarte, who is charged with enticing a minor over the Internet, may be forced to return to Columbia because the Catholic diocese has removed its sponsorship of his working visa.

However, the Ogden priest first must complete court proceedings.

After he pleaded innocent to the class A misdemeanor, a pretrial conference was set for June 24 before Judge Ernie Jones.

Immediately after he was arrested, the diocese suspended him from all priestly duties at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

Church officials announced over the weekend that he will be replaced by the Rev. Jesus Montoya of St. Henry's Parish in Brigham City.

"The diocese (took these actions) because of the possibility he could hurt young people," said Monica Howa-Johnson, communications director for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, which handles the church's affairs for all of Utah. "Our primary concern is to get someone out who could be considered harmful."

After his May 14 arrest, the 44-year-old priest told the Standard-Examiner that he had been conducting research for a lesson on the evils of the Internet when he allegedly arranged a meeting near the church with what he was thought was a 15-year-old boy he had met in a Gay.com chat room. The young boy turned out to be an undercover agent.

Defense attorney Bernie Allen said his client was not trolling the Internet looking for sex.

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

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