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San Diego, CA - Victory Outreach Church Pastor, Eric Manuel Merino Charged for Failing to Report Suspected Sexual Assault of Teen

San Diego, CA - Victory Outreach Church Pastor Charged for Failing to Report Suspected Sexual Assault of Teen
Published: June 10, 2024
By: Darla Medina
Last Updated on June 10, 2024

CA Pastor Charged for Failing to Report Suspected Sexual Assault

According to 10 News San Diego, a pastor at Victory Outreach Church San Ysidro, located at 1665 Precision Park Ln # H, San Diego, CA 92173, has been charged with failing to report a suspected sexual assault against a teenager, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Eric Manuel Merino, 43, appeared in San Diego Superior Court on Thursday morning, facing one misdemeanor count. The charges stem from an alleged incident where Merino, in his position as a pastor, failed to report a suspected case of sexual abuse involving a minor.

District Attorney Summer Stephan emphasized the importance of ensuring a safe environment for minors in the community. "Minors in San Diego County deserve to have a safe environment, free of sexual or physical abuse, at their schools and churches," Stephan said.

Stephan further stressed the critical role of mandated reporters, such as clergy members, in protecting vulnerable individuals. "When that kind of abuse does happen, it's critical that those incidents don't fall through the cracks and that the people in positions of authority follow their duty to report suspected abuse so victims can be supported, and abusers can be held responsible for their crimes," she stated.

According to the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), certain professionals, including clergy members, are legally required to report any suspicions of child sexual abuse immediately to child protective services or law enforcement, and submit a written report within 36 hours.

If found guilty, Merino could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. This case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of upholding the law and prioritizing the safety and well-being of the community's most vulnerable members.

Learn more about the Victory Outreach Church Choir Group Leader, Rafael Magana, who plead guilty to sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl. 

Michael E. Pfau
Hi, I’m attorney Mike Pfau. I’m a lawyer here in California and if you or a loved one were injured in an accident, I’d be happy to discuss your legal options. Call me on the number below. It costs nothing, and it would be my honor to help you.
(888) 997-3792

Holding Churches Accountable for Reporting Clergy Abuse

As reports of sexual abuse within religious institutions continue to surface, the need for legal recourse and accountability has become increasingly paramount. In the wake of the recent charges against a San Diego pastor for failing to report a suspected sexual assault, we sat down with experienced California clergy abuse lawyer Mike Pfau to discuss the options available to victims and how they can work to ensure negligent parties are held responsible.

Editor Darla Medina (DM): Thank you for joining us, Mr. Pfau. As a seasoned attorney who has worked on cases involving sexual abuse within the church, what are some of the key legal options available to victims?

Mike Pfau, Esq. (MP): Victims of sexual abuse at a church have several legal avenues they can pursue. First and foremost, they have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator, as well as the church or religious organization, for their failure to protect the victim. This can include claims for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

DM: And what about holding the church or other parties accountable for their negligence in these cases?

MP: Absolutely. One of the most important aspects of these cases is establishing liability for the church or religious organization. If they were aware of the abuse, or should have been aware of it, and failed to take appropriate action to protect the victim, they can be held legally responsible. This could include failing to properly vet or supervise clergy members, or not having adequate policies and procedures in place to address allegations of abuse.

DM: That's a critical point. What advice would you give to victims or their families who are considering taking legal action?

MP: My advice would be to act quickly and consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in clergy abuse cases. The laws surrounding statutes of limitations can be complex, and it's important to understand your rights and options as soon as possible. Additionally, working with an attorney who has a proven track record in this area can greatly increase your chances of achieving a successful outcome.

DM: Thank you, Mr. Pfau, for providing this valuable insight. It's clear that victims of sexual abuse within the church setting have important legal recourses available to them, and holding negligent parties accountable is a crucial step in the process.

MP: You're welcome. I'm glad I could provide some useful information. These cases are never easy, but it's important for victims to know that they have rights and that there are legal professionals who are committed to fighting for justice on their behalf.

Closing the Conversation: Seeking Justice and Support

For victims of sexual abuse within a church setting or their families, the path forward can seem daunting. However, as this discussion with Attorney Mike Pfau has highlighted, there are legal avenues available to pursue justice and accountability. If you or a loved one have experienced such abuse, we encourage you to reach out to our team for a free, confidential consultation. Our attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights of survivors and ensuring that negligent religious institutions are held responsible for their failures. Take the first step towards healing and justice - contact us today.


10 News San Diego

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Darla Medina
About Darla Medina
Editor: Darla is a content writer with a focus on the legal field. She covers cases of sexual abuse, drunk driving, and preventable violent crime for the Legal Herald. Contact Darla: This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.
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