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Santa Monica Priest Sentenced in Sexual Battery Case

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Lookout Staff

November 16, 2012 -- A Santa Monica priest who was charged of sexual battery July 26 has been sentenced to one day in jail and 364 days of probation after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts last week.

Rafael Venegas, a priest at St. Anne's Church, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of misdemeanor battery and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Venegas also will put in 160 hours of community service and "counseling through the archdiocese, which must contain a segment dealing with sexual compulsion," said Sgt. Richard Lewis, the police deportment spokesman.

Venegas was accused on July 1 of accosting a 20-year-old woman in the parking lot of the parish at 2017 Colorado Avenue in September 2011.

Police said it was not unusual for a victim of sexual assault to wait a year or more to report the crime.

Venegas turned himself in after the City Attorney filed charges on July 26 of sexual battery, which is defined as “unlawful or unwanted touching of another person of their private areas” and furnishing alcohol to someone under 21 years of age, Lewis said.

Because both charges are misdemeanors the City Attorney, rather than the District Attorney, handled the case, police said.

Venegas was released on $20,000 bail.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Detective DeRyck at (310) 458-8944, Sergeant Jacob at (310) 458-8460 or the Santa Monica Police Department (24hours) at (310) 458-8495.

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