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Priest pleads not guilty to sexually assaulting woman

February 19, 2019 GMT

ORD, Neb. (AP) — A May trial has been scheduled for a Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a woman in central Nebraska.

Valley County District Court records say the Rev. John Kakkuzhiyil (kah-kuh-ree-AL’) entered a written plea of not guilty Monday to a charge of forcible sexual assault. His trial is set to begin May 6.

The woman who accused him has obtained a protection order against the cleric. She says he assaulted her in November when she went to his Ord home on business. She says she blacked out after having a couple of drinks with him.

The Grand Island Diocese says Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt placed Kakkuzhiyil on leave Dec. 15 upon learning that the Nebraska State Patrol was investigating the allegations.