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Former priest arrested for allegedly molesting 15-year-old cancer patient during 'blessing'

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Posted at 12:13 PM, Oct 24, 2023

Westlake Police arrested a 76-year-old man on Monday for alleged inappropriate touching of a 15-year-old cancer patient he was asked to bless.

Luis Jesus Barajas is charged with gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony.

A caller notified police about Barajas on Oct. 20 and said he had been in the area giving "blessings" to Spanish-speaking residents in Lorain County.

The caller told police that on Oct. 10, the family of a teen undergoing chemotherapy requested a visit from Barjas after they heard about a "retired" priest giving blessings.

"According to witnesses, Mr. Barajas touched the juvenile inappropriately during the blessing. 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," authorities said.

Police obtained an arrest warrant for Barajas on Monday, and he was taken into custody. He had an initial court appearance on Tuesday.

Priesthood and other allegations
According to authorities, Barajas had been an ordained Catholic priest in 1982. In 1989, he was accused of sexual misconduct with minors while working in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which resulted in him being sent back to Columbia. At some point, he was defrocked, but it is unknown what led to his removal from the priesthood.

In 2019, he was charged with a felony for misconduct with a minor. Police said that in that instance, he was "acting in the capacity of a trusted family friend and as church clergy."

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