Man Running “Religious Mentorship” Group Arrested for Child Sexual Abuse, SNAP Calls for Action
A man who had been running a “religious mentorship institute” out of his home in McLean, Virginia, was arrested this week for sexually assaulting two children who took part in the program. This is a disturbing case that we hope will bring increased scrutiny from the government as to how such programs are licensed and monitored, and will make parents think carefully about the people with whom they trust their children.
According to reports, Antonio Perez-Alcala was arrested at his home where he ran the program “Stabet Mater,” ostensibly a religious mentorship program for boys and young men. This particular program was apparently focused on working with Hispanic youth, and it now seems especially chilling to read that Perez-Alcala said that he was "especially called to serve youths whose families have been 'fractured' by immigration and the stresses of making a life in a new country." It worries us that the children that Perex-Alcala described may have been particularly vulnerable to abuse.
Even more disturbingly, it appears that part of this program’s curriculum involved “private sessions” in Perez-Alcala’s bedroom. This was apparently only discovered after a brave victim came forward to another adult to tell them about the abuse they had experienced during a private session. Even more harrowing is the fact that Perez-Alcala has been leading these groups since the 1990s, a fact that makes it hard to believe that there are not other victims out there.
We call on the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Secular Institutes and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington to immediately share any information they may have regarding complaints that may have been made against Perez-Alcala in the past. Additionally, the U.S. Conference of Secular Institutes should also explain how they are revamping their policies and procedures in order to prevent more children from being victimized by people like Perez-Alcala in the future. Finally, we urge both institutions to turn over all information they have to the police so that the victims can have a chance at justice.
We have no doubt that there are many successful, well-respected daycares and other programs operated out of homes nationwide. At the same time, we recognize that this model invites bad actors, like Perez-Alcala, who can twist this situation into one for their own sick benefit. We hope that any parent who ever sent their children to Perez-Alcala’s will have a conversation with their child to determine if they were ever abused, or knew of someone else who may have been abused. Hopefully these conversations will help hidden victims come forward and start healing.
CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP DC (703-801-6044, [email protected]), Eduardo Lopez de Casas, SNAP En Español ([email protected], 832 641 6319), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)