A former Catholic priest is accused of sexually assaulting another person in Winona County in December 2020.

Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 50, of Rushmore, Minn., was charged last week in Winona County District Court with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing sexual acts on a victim without their consent. His first court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 8.

In a statement Thursday, officials with the Diocese of Winona-Rochester said Roque Huerta was in the process of being laicized — leaving the priesthood — when the alleged assault took place. The statement prompted the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) to question details concerning Roque Huerta's time in southern Minnesota.

According to the complaint, Roque Huerta wanted to get together for drinks with the victim, who was said to be a friend, privately as he was a priest and didn't want other people to see him drinking.

The two drank a bottle of tequila at the victim's house in Winona County on Dec. 13, 2020, after which Roque Huerta allegedly sexually assaulted the victim several times during the course of the night.

The victim later sought medical treatment, but Roque Huerta denied that any sexual assault had taken place.

The complaint doesn't list the victim's age or gender, nor does it say where the victim lived in Winona County.

Roque Huerta was ordained as a priest in 2008 and served Latino communities in parishes in Rochester, Eyota, Winona, St. Charles and Elba. Diocesan officials said his last assignment was in 2018, and he was suspended from clerical duties in November 2019. He was officially laicized in November 2021.

The Rev. Will Thompson, the diocese's vicar general, said Friday that Roque Huerta's 2019 removal from ministry was related to ecclesiastical matters and that diocesan officials were unaware of any civil or criminal incidents related to him aside from his recent charge. Roque Huerta had asked to be laicized by the Vatican, according to Thompson.

"We're working on being upfront about all of this," Thompson said. "As we've gone through the sexual abuse scandal, the church had a period of not always responding well, and we are trying to respond well and bring healing to people who do experience sexual misconduct, not only from priests, from laicized priests, but really anybody that comes through our doors."

But in a statement, SNAP officials said the diocese hadn't lived up to its promise in Roque Huerta's case.

They noted that the January 2020 issue of the Courier, the Winona-Rochester diocese's monthly newspaper, lists Roque Huerta as assigned in December 2019 to live at the Hermits of St. Mary of Carmel monastery in Houston, Minn., about 25 miles south of Winona.

They also said the diocese needs to provide more detail on the "ecclesiastical matters" that led to Roque Huerta's suspension in 2019.

"That is a very broad and a very vague term," Mike McDonnell, a spokesperson for SNAP, said Friday. "It really just leaves a lot of unanswered questions." McDonnell also questioned why Roque Huerta asked to leave the priesthood.

Diocesan officials could not be reached for further comment Friday.