A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a former Catholic priest accused of sexually assault, after he missed his first court appearance Thursday.

Winona County District Judge Mary Leahy issued the warrant to hold Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 50, without bail after he failed to show up for the hearing. Roque Huerta is charged with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing sexual acts on another person without their consent.

Roque Huerta was going through laicization — the process of leaving the priesthood — with the Diocese of Winona-Rochester when he allegedly assaulted a person in December 2020.

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

Officials said Roque Huerta's suspension was due to ecclesiastical matters, not civil or criminal issues. But members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) say the diocese needs to provide more information on why he was suspended.