AURORA, Ill. (STMW) - A priest who worked at two Aurora churches and in DeKalb County was arrested in Rockford on Thursday and charged with sexually abusing two children under the age of 13.
Alfredo Pedraza Arias, 49, was charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a minor, according to the Kane County state’s attorney’s office.
The investigation started in 2014, and, “Immediately after the first allegation was reported, Father Pedraza was asked to remove himself from all priestly ministry and from all Hispanic Ministry duties in the DeKalb County Deanery, to which he was assigned,” a statement from the Diocese of Rockford said.
He has been out of all ministry since October 30, 2014, according to the diocese.
Prosecutors allege that between January 2009 and November 2014, Pedraza, then a priest at Sacred Heart Church in Aurora, sexually abused two victims, who were both younger than 13 at the time.
“The abuse is alleged to have taken place at the home of one of the victims and at the church,” a statement from prosecutors said.
A warrant for his arrest was issued Feb. 10, with the charges sealed by court order and bond set at $50,000, prosecutors said. He was taken into custody Thursday in Rockford by U.S. Marshals and Kane County sheriff’s deputies.
Pedraza appeared in bond court Friday in St. Charles, where Associate Judge Elizabeth Flood kept the $50,000 bond in place, prosecutors said. The judge ordered that if he does post bail, Pedraza must surrender his passport, have no contact with the victims, and have no unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 18.
His next court date was set for Feb. 18 before Associate Judge Linda Abrahamson. He faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted and would have to register as a sexual offender.
Father Pedraza came to the Rockford Diocese from Colombia in 2013, according to the diocese. He worked in Hispanic Ministry in the DeKalb Deanery and assisted at Sacred Heart Parish and Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, both in Aurora.
The diocese said it “remains in full cooperation with authorities.”
The investigation continues, and anyone with additional information should call their local police or the Kane County Child Advocacy Center at (630) 208-5160.