The spiritual leader of a church in Queens has been charged with sexually assaulting a congregant over a three-year period, starting when the victim was 12, prosecutors said Friday.
Bishop Jesé Milagrosa of Our Lady of La Salette Church was arraigned Thursday on charges including predatory sexual assault against a child, acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan announced.
"The defendant is accused of using his position as head of the church to take advantage of an innocent child for his own sexual gratification," Ryan said in a statement.
Milagrosa's attorney, Jeffrey Pittell, said the cleric denies the allegations. Pittell urged people "to avoid rushing to judgment."
Prosecutors said the victim became an active member of the church as a young boy and started spending much of his time with Milagrosa. They said Milagrosa engaged in sex acts with the victim between 2011 and 2014.
The 69-year-old Milagrosa was ordered held on $250,000 bail. He faces up to 10 years to life in prison if convicted of the charges against him.
A message seeking comment was left with the church.
Our Lady of La Salette, in the Bayside neighborhood, is a "traditionalist" church that celebrates Mass in Latin.
It is not part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes Queens, diocese spokeswoman Adriana Rodriguez said.