January 14, 2005

Priest acquitted of sex charge

The Detroit News

By Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News

DETROIT - The acquittal of a priest accused of sexually molesting a 7-year-old child at his southwest Detroit parish came as a shock Thursday to the Wayne County assistant prosecutor who argued the case.

But, the jury's finding that the Rev. Luis Javier de Alba Campos, 50, was innocent of fondling the boy while they slept together in the parents' home was welcomed by members of St. Gabriel Catholic Church.

"We felt if he had been found guilty it would be a great injustice," said Julia Guzman, who works as a lay pastoral associate at the largely Latino parish at 8118 W. Vernor.

De Alba Campos said he is ready to return to work, even back at St. Gabriel, where he is a popular figure. He said he would welcome the child and his family. A native of San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico, de Alba Campos was serving as administrative pastor on loan from the Mexican church when the charges were filed against him.

"I learned from the time I started studying to be a priest to forgive," de Alba Campos said through an interpreter following the verdict. "And, to demonstrate to all men and women, innocent or guilty, God's mercy."

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lora Weingarden said she was stumped by the verdict.

"I can't believe that 12 people didn't believe the child witness," she said.

Posted by kshaw at January 14, 2005 02:08 AM