Pastor Sergio Alvarizares Sentenced in Sex Abuse Case

This article is courtesy of The Oregonian

I originally posted another news article about this, but this one included much more detail. For anyone who follows these stories some consistent themes will jump out at you — including the pastor’s lack of remorse, his wife’s persistent denial of his guilt, and the pastor’s minimal jail sentence.

And I will renew my earlier statement about why I question that any pastor would plead guilty if he was not guilty. Here’s what I said in another case when some supporters wanted to cling to belief in a man they had trusted.

“First of all, to [plead guilty when innocent] would require lying on the stand. How can a Christian justify that? Second, it would be a violation of the Word by calling evil good — agreeing with evil and saying it is true. Third, it reflects poorly on God’s reputation. Do we have the right to do that, even if it will get us home to our family faster? Fourth, I doubt anyone is naive about conditions in prison. “They say” that child molesters are treated worst in prison by other inmates (with the possible exception of former law enforcement officers). [Whether it is the minimum sentence or the maximum] – it is not good. And last, one of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith is trusting God. Why would a pastor lie instead of trusting God?”

~~~

By Aimee Green

The Northeast Portland pastor who sexually assaulted five women in his church didn’t want to stand up in court and say he was sorry.

But the terms of his plea agreement made it a requirement.

“Do I have to?” Sergio Alvarizares asked Judge Eric Bergstrom, in a last-ditch effort to get out of it.

“Yes,” replied the judge.

And so Alvarizares rattled off the few sentences of his apology letter Wednesday: “I am sincerely sorry for all the sexual contact,” Alvarizares read, his voice lacking any emotion.

Bergstrom then sentenced the 39-year-old man to 31/2 years in prison. Alvarizares, the former co-pastor of Casa del Padre, a nondenominational Spanish-speaking church at 1725 N.E. Alberta St., had originally been charged with raping one woman, attempting to rape two others and sexually abusing two others.

Last month, he pleaded guilty to attempted rape and third-degree sexual abuse for unlawfully kissing four women and trying to force another woman to have sex.

Alvarizares’ crimes against women became public during a dramatic confrontation at a Sept. 30 Sunday service. A woman interrupted the service to accuse Alvarizares of luring her into his office with compliments, locking the door and making unwanted sexual advances to her.

Other women began to stand up to confront Alvarizares about abuse, too. As the crowd grew unruly and five people reportedly tried to get onto the pulpit, several people dialed 9-1-1. The pastor yelled “That’s a lie! That’s a lie!” before ducking into his office.

One caller declared “This is an emergency!” Another reported: “Someone wants to fight the pastor.” Police came to calm the crowd.

Within weeks, nine women had come forward with stories of abuse. Alvarizares was indicted for crimes against five of the women.

He was arrested in mid-October at his Ridgefield, Wash., home.

During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Deputy District Attorney Christine Mascal thanked the women for coming forward with their stories despite repercussions.

“They were driven away from the congregation . . . by supporters of the defendant,” Mascal said. “And in spite of that, they are here today.”

Mascal described Alvarizares as “a predator who walked all over their trust and their faith.”

One of Alvarizares’ victims spoke at Wednesday’s sentencing, telling the former pastor that she used to look at him as someone she could turn to with life’s problems.

“I trusted you,” she said, her eyes watering with emotion. The Oregonian isn’t identifying the woman because she’s a victim of sexual assault.

She also spoke of the humiliation of coming forward.

“I was publicly pointed at, labeled and my personal things were aired as if they were public,” she said. Even so, she said she is certain she made the right choice.

Alvarizares and his wife, who have three sons, had been co-pastors for several years of the church, known in English as “Father’s House.” The church, with a congregation of about 800 adults, started in the couple’s home, moved to Northeast 104th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, to Southeast 14th Avenue and Ankeny and then to Alberta Street.

Alvarizares’ wife sat in the first row of the courtroom, flanked by supporters. After the hearing, she declined to comment except to angrily complain about what she described as mistruths spread about her husband. She declined to elaborate.

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