A St. James Catholic Church priest was arrested Friday by Davis police on suspicion of statutory rape and oral copulation with a minor.
Police began investigating the sexual abuse charges against the Rev. Hector Coria, 45, earlier this month, a department spokesman said. Coria allegedly befriended the 17-year-old female victim in late 2013, police said.
“In late 2013, Father Coria began a sexual relationship with the minor and engaged in that sexual relationship on multiple occasions since 2013,” a department news release said.
On Friday, Davis police served search warrants at multiple locations and subsequently arrested Coria. He was booked into the Yolo County Jail on Friday but was no longer in custody as of Saturday night, a jail spokeswoman said. He is expected to be arraigned next month in Yolo Superior Court.
The church celebrated Mass on Saturday evening as usual. The Rev. Peter Bosque announced Coria’s arrest at the end of the service, just after a poignant recognition of attending mothers for Mother’s Day. Low murmurs among the parishioners quieted down quickly, and Bosque asked anyone who may have information or know of other victims to contact the Davis Police Department.
In an interview after Mass, Bosque said he would do his best to help his church heal, and keep anyone who had been harmed in his prayers. Coria would not return to the parish, even if cleared of all charges, Bosque said. A new priest likely will be appointed within the month.
The Sacramento Diocese of the Catholic Church announced that Coria has been placed on administrative leave, in keeping with diocesan policy.
Coria joined St. James in 2012 after serving at the Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Carmichael.
His arrest comes less than a year after a former Yolo County Catholic priest, the Rev. Uriel Ojeda, was sentenced to eight years in prison for molesting a 13-year-old girl in her family’s Sacramento County home sometime between June 2007 and June 2009.