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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Juan Gomez Convicted of Sexual Battery

pastor juan gomez

Juan Gomez, former pastor of Iglesia De Dios (Church of God) in Wimauma, Florida, was convicted today of “sexual battery upon a minor between the ages of 12 and 18 and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.” The Bradenton Herald reports:

A former Wimauma pastor has been found guilty in the 2015 sexual battery of a 17-year-old boy during a hunting trip.

Juan Gomez, 53, was convicted by a jury Thursday afternoon of sexual battery upon a minor between the ages of 12 and 18 and unlawful sexual activity with a minor. The jurors deliberated for just under an hour at the conclusion of a four-day trial.

Gomez, who is facing up to life in prison, will be sentenced on June 16.

The assault first came to light July 21, 2015, after investigators received information Gomez sexually assaulted the boy earlier that month at a hunting ranch in northern Manatee County.

The victim was very thankful on Thursday after the verdict was read, according to Assistant State Attorney Brian Chambers.
“The biggest fear that these victims have is that they won’t be believed, and to be believed by this community, for the jury to recognize the heinous act committed upon him while the defendant was entrusted with his care, makes that courageous act of coming forward worthwhile,” Chambers said afterward.

The incident was not isolated, however. The jury heard from another victim who said he was first sexually battered by Gomez in 1990 at a church camp in another county in Florida, and later again during a college visit in Tennessee in 1994.

“He waited for 25 years for justice of that,” Chambers said. “This case is a highlight for what happens, because he wasn’t listened to 25 years ago it only allowed the perpetrator to have another day and another victim.”

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Justine Valinotti

    The cases of sexual assault, battery and molestation by clergy members represent just the tip of the iceberg. For many of us, it took years or even decades to talk about our experiences whether because of shame, fear of retaliation or simply denigrating someone we might have respected or even admired, or simply the too-often-justified belief that we will not be listened to–or, worse yet, that we will be blamed. Or we simply may not have had the words to describe what happened to us, especially if we had our experiences in places and times where such things weren’t discussed.

    Notice that I used first-person plural pronouns. Yes, I was sexually molested by a priest as…you guessed it…an altar boy in a Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, NY. More than three decades would go by before I talked about it with anybody. I got myself into therapy and a little more than a year later, I began my gender transition. I can’t help but to think that being molested by that priest (to be fair, along with other experiences) kept me from untangling my gender identity and sexual orientation for all of those years.

    • Avatar
      Cat Givens

      I’m totally understanding that many who are molested would fear not being believed and also that they will be blamed. That is what I thought, as well. The culture of the churches is to revere the “man of god”, whilst decrying anyone who speaks ill of their leader… and blaming the victim for tempting the “man of god” into sin.

      It does make sense that the repression of your clergy abuse would also serve to hinder your understanding of who you really are. HUGS to you, Justine.

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