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The grand jury indicted 76-year-old Luis Jesus Barajas, a Columbian national, on six counts of gross sexual imposition.
The investigation began when a local priest reported the situation to police. Investigators say Barajas had been staying with Lorain County families for months, “performing spiritual ceremonies to the nearby Spanish-speaking population.”
According to a press release, Barajas was taken to Westlake on Oct. 20 to pray with a 15-year-old girl who was diagnosed with cancer.
The suspect, who later claimed to be a retired Catholic priest, is accused of inappropriately touching the teen during the blessing.
Barajas was arrested on Oct. 23.
Investigators believe the suspect was ordained in 1982, but was sent back to Colombia after being accused of sexual misconduct against juveniles in the Catholic diocese in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1989.
Barajas was arrested on a felony count of misconduct with a minor in Virginia back in 2019, but he was not prosecuted in that case.
“Luis Barajas is a predator who took advantage of a 15-year-old during a vulnerable time,” said Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley. “This indictment is the first step in holding him accountable.”
He will be arraigned at a later date in the Cuyahoga County Justice Center.