An East Bay Pentecostal pastor, Victor Hernandez Pineda, has been arrested on charges of sexual assault, apparently involving an underage member of his congregation.
Hernandez Pineda is facing multiple counts of "aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14" and kidnapping, per ABC7.
He has reportedly led the congregation at Iglesia Pentecostes Movimiento de Gloria in Richmond, largely for immigrants from Central America, for the past few years.
The church community is grappling with the allegations. One of the alleged victims’ fathers told ABC7 that he was “so, so angry,” after learning that his daughter was allegedly victimized five times over a span of three years in her adolescence. Other alleged victims also described their experiences to ABC7, with one saying that the pastor had taken advantage of her at the church, and another said that he had taken her out of school and to hotel rooms in the middle of the day.
Richmond police are urging other potential victims to come forward, suspecting that there may be more cases of abuse, according to KNTV. As Richmond Lt. Patchin told the outlet, “We’re here to give you the resources you need so we would always encourage them to step forward so we can ensure that if this did occur that he’s held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
Many members of the church have left since the abuse came to light, as ABC7 reported.
Now, Hernandez is reportedly in custody and being held on $7 million bail.
Feature image of Iglesia Pentecostes Movimiento de Gloria via Google Street View.