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Ex-priest who fled to Philippines pleads not guilty to sexually abusing kids in Fargo area

Ex-priest who fled to Philippines pleads not guilty to sexually abusing kids in Fargo area

Former Catholic priest Fernando Sayasaya appears at a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Cass County District Court, Fargo. He faces two counts of gross sexual imposition from 1997. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor FARGO – A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing children while he worked at churches in Fargo and West Fargo has pleaded not guilty to two Class B felony counts of gross sexual imposition.

Fernando Laude Sayasaya, 53, appearing in orange Cass County Jail garb, said little during the hearing Wednesday, Feb. 14, in Cass County District Court before Judge Steven McCullough.

In a December hearing, Sayasaya’s bail was set at $5 million cash only – a stratospheric amount nearly unheard of in area courtrooms.

Each of the counts against Sayasaya have maximum prison sentences of 10 years, Cass County Assistant State’s Attorney Ryan Younggren said after the hearing. Younggren said he could not comment on whether there have been any negotiations for a plea agreement in the case.

Prosecutors had sought a high bail for Sayasaya, saying he posed a flight risk. Sayasaya fled to the Philippines about two decades ago and never returned of his own volition, even though he told investigators at the […]

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