Police arrested a Florida pastor Friday for allegedly sexually battering a 17-year-old girl for months whom he claimed to be treating for demonic possession.
Gerardo Martinez, pastor of Miracle Christian Church, allegedly forced the girl into multiple sexual acts between April and October of 2017 after he gained her parents’ trust by saying that through prayer he could cure her of a multiple personality disorder and from demonic possession, according to Fox 13 News. Authorities released Martinez from jail Sunday after he posted bail of $100,000, according to Tampa Bay Online.
“People put their trust in someone like a pastor. It’s something that, as a parent and a child, they don’t expect something like this to happen,” Sgt. Jason Hatcher of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office told Fox 13 News. “It’s kind of obvious, it looks like he was grooming her. So it’s just a horrible situation.”
The girl, whom authorities have not identified to the press, contacted the sheriff’s office on Dec. 12 to report alleged sexual abuse at Martinez’s hands. Authorities said the girl’s accounts of the alleged sexual encounters with Martinez are “pretty heinous” and “graphic.” Detectives followed up on the girl’s claims and spoke with witnesses who claimed to have seen Martinez alone with the girl. Detectives also reported that while Martinez gave inconsistent answers to their questions, first denying and later admitting to driving the girl at least part way home from church, the girl’s story remained consistent throughout their questioning.
The girl alleged Martinez coerced her into sexual acts and raped her when he was alone with her at the church, when they were in the car together, and when they were in her family’s home when her parents were out.
Martinez faces multiple charges of sexual battery in Pasco County, but could face more charges from the police department in Tarpon Springs where the girl lives. The girl, however, may need therapy to heal from the experiences Martinez has been charged, according to Martinez’s neighbor Darlene Starrette.
“She needs trauma counseling and she needs a lot of support and people to believe her and to talk to her,” Starrette told Fox13. “Just like any physical trauma where you’d go to the emergency room, she needs an emotional emergency room right now.”
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