Victims blast Richmond church members
Board publicly back recently-arrested minister
Pastor is accused of molesting two girls in Texas
Group says rallying behind alleged molester is “hurtful”
It “intimidates other victims, witnesses & whistleblowers,” SNAP charges
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will criticize the board of a Richmond mega-church for publicly backing a just-arrested pastor who is charged with molesting children. They will also urge
--the board to publicly apologize,
--church-goers and the public to “keep open minds,” and
--anyone who may have seen suspected or suffered the minister’s crimes to call police.
Tuesday, May 28 at noon
At least three adults who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including the organization’s Virginia Director and a woman who facilitates SNAP’s Richmond support group
Outside the police station, 200 W Grace St. (corner of N. Jefferson) in downtown Richmond VA
The board of a Richmond church is publicly supporting their pastor who was arrested last week on charges that he sexually assaulted two girls in Texas in the 1990s. And SNAP says they should withhold judgment about the minister or back him, if they must, privately. Publicly support for an accused child molester, SNAP says, is “inappropriate, hurtful, and intimidating to others who were molested and to others who may have information or suspicions about the cleric’s alleged crimes.
According to the Fort Worth Star Telegam, “Two California women reported that Geronimo Aguilar, 43, sexually assaulted them in 1996 and 1997 in Texas. Aguilar heads the Richmond Outreach Center.
Aguilar was arrested by a U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force on Tuesday at his home in Richmond, will be extradited to Texas and will face a Tarrant County judge on June 6.
SNAP is urging anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered Aguilar’s crimes to contact police. And the group wants the ROC to help reach out to others who may have suspicions or knowledge about Aguilar.
On May 23, the ROC board issued a statement saying “we believe the accusations against him to be completely untrue.”
SNAP is urging the board to print and circulate among the congregants a 21 point brochure called “What to do when your pastor is accused.”
There is a Facebook page for those who say they were hurt by him: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Richmond-Outreach-Center-Recovery-Group/225421840921225
According to the Dallas Morning News, “Aguilar settled in Richmond in 1999 and has been a pastor at the Richmond Outreach Center since the early 2000s, according to the church’s website. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Aguilar’s church community has expressed its support for the religious leader.
Aguilar’s attorney is David Carlson. Melody McDonald is the spokeswoman for the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
At his initial hearing last week, he appeared in front of General District Judge David E. Cheek Sr. and Davis Powell represented the prosecutor’s office.
Among the ROC members who’ve spoken up in support of Aguilar are Shebeney Miles, Kimberly Williamson, and Bobby Thomas.
Major Steve Drew with the Richmond Police Department has said there is no pending local investigation into Aguilar.
The minister’s bail in Texas was set at $200,000. Aguilar is charged in two cases with four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child younger than 14, which are first-degree felonies that carry a sentence of up to life in prison. He is also charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child, second-degree felonies that carry up to 20 years in prison, and one charge of indecency with a child, also a second-degree felony.
According to its non-profit, tax-exempt income report, “the Richmond Outreach Center is a $17 million dollar independent church organization that brings in some $3 million a year,” reports WTVR. And according to financial statements filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the ROC has more than $16,000,000 in assets and operates about 10 separate nonprofit organizations and includes a real estate foundation, café, thrift store, fitness center, child care center, clothing line and a tutoring company in Florida.
Today’s event is being held outside the police station, SNAP says, to emphasize that suspected clergy sex crimes should be reported to secular officials, not church officials
314 862 7688
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Annual Conference, Washington, DC. July 26-28