Priest caught with 13-year-old girl asks DOJ to dismiss charges

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2017 07:28 PM

Msgr. Arnel Fuentes Lagarejos. Photo courtesy of the Rizal Province Government Website

MANILA- The priest who faces qualified human trafficking charges for allegedly contracting a 13-year old girl for sex wants the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the complaint against him.

Instead of filing his counter-affidavit in Friday’s preliminary investigation hearing, Fr. Arnel Fuentes Lagarejos, 55, submitted through his counsel an urgent motion to dismiss the case.

He did not attend the proceedings. 

Under the rules, a motion to dismiss is a prohibited pleading, which led Assistant State Prosecutor Karla Cabel, the handling prosecutor, to treat the motion as Lagarejos’ counter-affidavit.

Lagarejos’s four co-respondents were meanwhile able to submit their respective counter-affidavits.

Lagarejos was caught bringing a 13-year-old girl into a motel in July in an entrapment operation in Marikina City.

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), counsel for complainants “Anna” and her mother “Marie,” was given up to Sept. 29 to submit its reply to Lagarejos’ motion and the rest of the respondents’

Lagarejos will have an opportunity to file his rejoinder affidavit on October 9.

The complaint is for two counts of the non-bailable offense under Republic Act No. 9208 (Anti-Human Trafficking Act), and pertains to two alleged previous incidents where Lagarejos had “booked” “Anna.”

Lagarejos has been stripped of his duties as parish priest of the St. John the Baptist Parish and as president of the Cainta Catholic College because of the controversy.

The priest is out on a P120,000 bail for a trafficking in persons case already pending before the Marikina Regional Trial Court (RTC) involving a separate incident for bringing the same alleged victim to a motel.