A former pastor at the Palabra Miel Hispanic Church in Decatur has pleaded guilty to one Class X felony count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. This guilty plea ends the trial of 60-year-old Jose L. Aboytes, who was charged with raping and sexually abusing a young girl from his congregation.
A sentencing hearing has been set for July 11 in Macon County Circuit Court. Aboytes faces between 6 and 60 years in prison and will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.
The abuse reportedly occurred over the course of a year, between September 2015 and September 2016. Aboytes was an assistant pastor at the Palabra Miel Hispanic Church during this time.
Aboytes pleaded guilty on the third day of what was expected to be a four-day trial. The prosecution agreed to dismiss four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of criminal sexual assault in exchange for the guilty plea.
Have you or someone you know been sexually assaulted by a pastor or member of the church community? Continue reading for lawyer commentary from attorney Brian Kent.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent specializes in helping survivors of sexual abuse fight for justice. We’ve asked him to share some insight on how church abuse survivors and their families can take legal action:
Sexual predators are often found in positions of power, including religious organizations. The sex abuse lawyers at Abuse Guardian regularly see cases of religious leaders abusing children in their congregation. Our religious communities must be aware of the threat that sexual predators pose and do all that they can to keep their congregations safe. But in many cases, these communities fail to do so and allow otherwise preventable abuse to occur.
In cases where sexual abuse occurs due to the negligence of a religious organization, that organization can potentially be held liable for the trauma they’ve caused. Survivors of sexual abuse may have the right to file a lawsuit against the organization in cases of negligence, such as a church failing to respond to previous allegations of sexual misconduct involving a pastor.
If you or your child is a survivor of sexual abuse in a religious organization, your family has options for finding justice. You can learn more about your family’s legal options by speaking to an experienced sex abuse victims lawyer in a free consultation.