Nicaraguan judge sentences priest to 49 years for rape

Sep 2, 2022, 3:17 AM | Updated: 3:18 pm

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A judge in Nicaragua sentenced a Roman Catholic priest to 49 years in prison Friday for the rape of a 14-year-old girl.

Judge Edén Aguilar Castro sentenced Rev. José Leonardo Urbina to 24 years in prison on two counts of abuse and 25 years for one count of rape.

However, Aguilar Castro ruled that Urbina would serve only 30 years. Nicaraguan law limits maximum sentences in most cases to 30 years.

Urbina served as a priest at the Perpetuo Socorro parish in the town of Boaco, 55 miles (90 kilometers) northeast of the capital, Managua. He was arrested in July on a complaint from the victim’s mother.

The Diocese of Grenada expressed “deep pain and suffering” in a statement about the sentence, and called on the faithful to “continue praying for our jailed priests.”

In June, a parish priest in the southern town of Nandaime was sentenced to two years in prison for supposedly assaulting a woman, but she later retracted the accusation and was accused of perjury.

The sentencing comes amid an unprecedented series of arrests and tension between the government of President Daniel Ortega and the church.

In August, Nicaraguan police raided the residence of Matagalpa Diocese Bishop Rolando Álvarez and arrested him and several other priests who had holed up inside for two weeks after police set up a cordon.

Nicaraguan authorities had earlier accused Bishop Álvarez — an outspoken critic of Ortega’s government — of “organizing violent groups” and inciting them “to carry out acts of hate against the population.”

The government had previously shut down eight radio stations and one television channel in Matagalpa province north of Managua. Seven of the radio stations were run by the church.

Huge street protests across Nicaragua in 2018 called for Ortega to step down. Ortega maintained the protests were a coup attempt carried out with foreign backing and the support of the church. Since then, his government has moved against voices of dissent, including locking up political opposition leaders and shuttering more than 1,000 nongovernmental organizations.

In November, after locking up his potential challengers, Ortega won a fourth consecutive term in elections that foreign governments called a farce. The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on members of his government and family members.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Image: A Boeing 737 Max 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Ren...

Associated Press

Boeing says it’s in talks to buy Spirit AeroSystems, key supplier on troubled 737 Max

Boeing said Friday that it is in preliminary talks to buy Spirit AeroSystems, which builds fuselages for Boeing 737 Max jetliners.

2 hours ago

Image: McKenna Shuster works on a linocut art print which she does as a hobby in her home on the la...

Mike Stobbs, The Associated Press

U.S. health officials drop 5-day isolation time for COVID-19

Americans who test positive for COVID-19 no longer need to stay in isolation for five days, U.S. health officials announced Friday.

8 hours ago

Image: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Get Out The Vote...

Associated Press

Supreme Court agrees to decide if Trump can be prosecuted for election interference

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the former president can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election.

2 days ago


Michael Tackett, The Associated Press

McConnell will step down as the Senate Republican leader in November

McConnell said he plans to serve out his Senate term, which ends in January 2027, “albeit from a different seat in the chamber.”

2 days ago

Image: This combo image shows President Joe Biden, left, on Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidenti...

Associated Press

Trump, Biden won Michigan: but ‘uncommitted’ votes stick out

Early results from Michigan highlighted some of the two candidates' biggest political vulnerabilities ahead of the November general election.

3 days ago

An entrance to a Macy's store in the mall. (File photo: Ted Shaffrey, AP)...

Associated Press

Macy’s to close 150 stores as sales slip, pivot to luxury with Bloomingdale’s locations

Macy’s will close 150 unproductive namesake stores over the next three years including 50 by year-end, the department store operator said Tuesday.

3 days ago

Nicaraguan judge sentences priest to 49 years for rape