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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A former priest from Colombia accused of molesting a 15-year-old girl suffering from cancer was arraigned Wednesday in a Cleveland court.
Court records show Barajas’ bond was set at $50,000 at his Wednesday arraignment, where he pleaded not guilty.
That’s down from $250,000 set during his initial appearance in the county court and down from $500,000 set during his initial arraignment in Rocky River Municipal Court.
He’ll be under court-supervised release and home detention with electronic monitoring and ordered against having contact with the victim. He’s also not allowed to leave the state. A temporary protection order has also been issued.
Westlake police said Barajas had been staying with local families in Lorain County for months, “performing spiritual ceremonies to the nearby Spanish-speaking population,” according to a previous news release.
“According to witnesses, Mr. Barajas touched the juvenile inappropriately during the blessing,” Westlake police Capt. Gerald Vogel wrote. “Mr. Barajas used blankets and clothing to hide some of his actions from witnesses but his touching made several uncomfortable. Witnesses said Barajas’ movements were ‘unconventional’ compared to past blessings they had seen.”
Investigators believe Barajas was ordained in 1982, and that he was accused of sexual misconduct against juveniles in the Catholic diocese in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1989. He was then sent back to Colombia, according to investigators.
“Reports are that he was removed from the priesthood at some point but it is unclear when this happened,” Vogel wrote.
Barajas was previously arrested in 2019 in Virginia on a felony count of misconduct with a minor, according to the release.
“He had been ‘acting in the capacity of a trusted family friend and as church clergy’ at that time as well,” Vogel wrote.
District court records in that case indicate the alleged offense happened in 2013, but authorities ultimately declined to prosecute.
Barajas’ case is due for a pretrial on Nov. 22.