A former priest at St. Anne’s Church in Santa Monica has been charged in connection with the sexual battery of a woman at the church last year, police said.

Rafael Venegas, who was accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in to Santa Monica police July 30 and was booked on one count of sexual battery and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor, Sgt. Richard Lewis said. He was released after posting $20,000 bail.

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office had filed the charges against Venegas July 26 following an investigation by police, Lewis said.

Police began the investigation July 1 after a 20-year-old woman, who is not a parishioner, made sexual battery allegations against Venegas, a priest at St. Anne’s, 2017 Colorado Ave., Lewis said. The woman told police that the alleged incident occurred on the property of the church in September 2011, Lewis said.

Venegas is scheduled to appear at the Airport Courthouse for arraignment Friday, Aug. 3. ¤

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