According to ABC 7, a Richmond pastor has been taken into custody and charged with kidnapping and molesting a child. The suspect, identified as 53-year-old Victor Hernandez-Pineda, was apprehended by Richmond police in Oakland on Friday. The victim, who is under the age of 14, is a member of Hernandez-Pineda's congregation, and authorities fear that there may be additional victims.
Hernandez-Pineda, a pastor at the Iglesia Pentecostal Movimiento de Gloria, a Spanish-language Christian church located on 3rd Street near MacDonald Avenue in Richmond, CA, now faces multiple counts of kidnapping and continuous molestation of a child. The arrest has sent shockwaves through the community, as it involves a betrayal of trust by a spiritual leader and authority figure.
The investigation into these disturbing allegations began after a tip from a concerned family. The police confirmed that an ongoing investigation was underway, and on Friday, December 1, 2023, they made the arrest.
The once-thriving church, which used to attract over 150 people for services, has been deeply impacted by these allegations. Since the allegations of sexual abuse against Pastor Hernandez came to light, attendance has dwindled to just a dozen people on Sundays.
One former senior official of the church, Pablo Cifuentes, revealed that he had been deceived by the pastor, considering him a friend. However, when Cifuentes discovered the truth, he was filled with anger and disappointment.
It was Cifuentes' 21-year-old daughter, Karen, who recently disclosed that when she was only thirteen, Pastor Hernandez convinced her that it was God's will for them to engage in sexual acts. The victim resisted due to their significant age difference, Hernandez's marital status, and his position of authority as her pastor. However, she claims that the abuse occurred on multiple occasions over a span of three years, profoundly affecting her mental well-being.
The victim's parents were devastated when they learned about the abuse. They blame themselves for trusting the pastor and sought solace and guidance at the church. Now, they have left the congregation and vow never to return.
Pablo Cifuentes, upon learning about his daughter's ordeal, immediately contacted the police and filed a report. Cifuentes claims that he had heard other complaints about the pastor's behavior from church members, including Joseline Alvarez.
Alvarez and her mother recounted a distressing encounter with Pastor Hernandez, wherein he requested a private meeting with Joseline in an upstairs room of the church. They allege that he touched her inappropriately and attempted to kiss her. Both mother and daughter decided to sever ties with the church, concerned for Joseline's safety.
The arrest of Pastor Hernandez was prompted by concerns that he may have become aware of the police investigation. Law enforcement officials deemed it necessary to take him into custody to prevent potential flight or harm to the victim.
Richmond Police Department spokesperson Lt. Donald Patchin emphasized the importance of protecting the victim and ensuring the suspect's apprehension. Hernandez is currently being held on $7 million bail. His defense attorney declined to comment on the arrest and the allegations.
The community is reeling from these disturbing revelations, and authorities are urging anyone with additional information or potential victims to come forward. The police are determined to thoroughly investigate the case and bring justice to the alleged victims.
In the wake of a shocking arrest involving a Richmond pastor charged with kidnapping and molesting a child, questions arise about the legal recourse available to victims of clergy sex abuse and their families. To shed light on this important topic, we sit down with Bobby Thompson, Esq., a highly regarded child abuse lawyer based in California. In this interview, Mr. Thompson shares invaluable insights on pursuing civil cases against responsible parties, seeking compensation, and the path to justice for victims of clergy sex abuse. Join this crucial conversation and explore the legal options available to those affected by these devastating crimes.
Editor Darla Medina (DM): Thank you for joining us, Mr. Thompson. In light of the recent arrest of a Richmond pastor on charges of kidnapping and molesting a child, can you shed some light on what victims of clergy sex abuse and their families can do in terms of pursuing a civil case against those responsible?
Attorney Bobby Thompson (BT): Thank you for having me, Darla. It's a critical topic that deserves attention. In cases of clergy sex abuse, victims and their families have legal options to seek justice through civil lawsuits. While criminal charges hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, civil cases provide an avenue for victims to pursue compensation for the harm they have endured.
DM: That's important to know. Could you elaborate on the specific steps victims and their families can take if they wish to pursue a civil case?
BT: Absolutely. The first step is to consult with an experienced clergy abuse attorney who specializes in handling these types of cases. They can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the legal process. The attorney will assess the details of the case, gather evidence, and determine the liable parties, which may include the individual perpetrator, the religious institution, or other entities involved.
DM: What legal grounds or claims can victims and their families typically pursue in these civil cases?
BT: Victims may have various legal claims available to them, depending on the circumstances. Some common claims include negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, and failure to protect. Each case is unique, and an attorney will evaluate the specific facts and applicable laws to determine the appropriate legal claims.
DM: I see. And what can victims and their families expect in terms of the potential outcomes of a civil case?
BT: The outcomes can vary depending on the facts of each case and the applicable laws. In some instances, victims may be awarded financial compensation to cover medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Additionally, a successful civil case can bring a sense of closure and validation for victims, holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
DM: That's crucial for the healing process. Lastly, how can victims and their families find the right attorney to represent them in these sensitive cases?
BT: It's essential to seek an attorney with significant experience in clergy abuse cases and a deep understanding of the complexities involved. They should have a track record of successfully representing victims and their families, as well as a compassionate approach to supporting their clients through the legal process. Local bar associations, referrals from trusted sources, and online research can help identify attorneys who specialize in this area of law.
DM: Thank you, Mr. Thompson, for sharing your insights and shedding light on what victims of clergy sex abuse and their families can do in terms of pursuing justice through civil cases. Your expertise is invaluable in helping those affected navigate this challenging process.
BT: It was my pleasure, Darla. Thank you for providing a platform to discuss this important issue. It's crucial that victims of clergy sex abuse know they have legal options available to them and that justice can be pursued.