The Jones County priest accused of sexually abusing a child in 2015 pleaded guilty to fondling Monday as part of a plea deal.
The judge sentenced Jose Vazquez, 36, to 15 years in prison. When he is released, he will be deported back to Mexico.
Vazquez was arrested by the Jones County Sheriff’s Department in September 2015 and was originally charged with two counts of sexual battery of a minor.
A news release from the Jones County Sheriff's Department said deputies were dispatched Sept. 9, 2015, after the boy's father "reported inappropriate behavior between his son and a priest who previously worked in Jones County."
According to the JCSD, Vazquez abused a 12-year-old boy on two different occasions.
According to the Diocese of Biloxi, Vazquez has worked as the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Wiggins and St. Lucy Mission in Lucedale since Jan. 15, 2014.
He was the parochial vicar or associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Laurel about four years ago, according to Sheriff Hodge, and has also worked at Sacred Heart Parish in Hattiesburg.
Vasquez's former employer the Diocese of Biloxi issued a statement denouncing Vasquez's actions.
The statement said in part:
“This behavior is reprehensible and will not be tolerated. We continue to be saddened by his actions and for his victim. We remain committed to providing a safe environment for those entrusted to our care, and we pledge to seek healing for the victim and all affected.”