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Tag: Rafael Magana

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Choir Leader Rafael Magana Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Sexual Abuse

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The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Rafael Magana, a choir director at Victory Outreach Church in San Diego, California, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a fifteen-year-old girl. He was sentenced to two years in prison for his crimes.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

A former San Ysidro church leader who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl who was a member of the choir was sentenced Tuesday to two years in state prison.

Rafael Magana, 28, who was a choir group leader at Victory Outreach Church, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of lewd acts on a child on Nov. 6, 2021.

San Diego police said Magana, who was 25 years old at the time, drove the girl to and from a baby shower that day. After the baby shower, police said Magana drove the girl to the Paradise Hills neighborhood where he parked the car, sexually assaulted her in the car, then drove the girl home.

The victim did not report the assault to police until March of last year due to what police described as “a confluence of factors.” Magana was arrested in August.

In addition to the two-year prison term, Magana is required to register as a sex offender.

At Magana’s sentencing hearing in San Diego Superior Court, Deputy District Attorney Zachary Wallace asked for the maximum possible term of three years in prison, citing the “extreme emotional and psychological trauma that Mr. Magana inflicted” on the victim.

The prosecutor also argued Magana took advantage of the girl through his position as the victim’s choir group leader and said Magana has a prior conviction in juvenile court for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, which occurred when he was 15 years old.

The victim, who is now 18 years old, said in court that she “suffered in silence” in the years following what happened.

“On the night of Nov. 6, my life would change forever,” she said. “My innocence was stolen from me that night. That night would be the first of many that I would question who I am and my self-worth.”

Further, a pastor at Victory Outreach Church, Eric Merino, has been charged with failing to report abuse.

Channel 7 reports:

A San Ysidro pastor who allegedly received a report that a church choir group leader had sexually abused an underage girl has been charged with failing to report the abuse, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Prosecutors say it was reported to Eric Manuel Merino, 43, a pastor at Victory Outreach Church, that a teenage girl had been sexually abused by choir group leader Rafael Magana, but he failed to notify police or child welfare services, in violation of his duty as a legally mandated reporter.

Magana, 28, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a felony count of lewd acts on a child and faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced later this year.

Prosecutors say Magana drove the 15-year-old victim, who was a member of the choir, to a location in Paradise Hills on Nov. 6, 2021, then sexually assaulted her in the car. The victim reported the assault to police last year.

According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, California law requires people in certain professions to report such incidents and failure to do so can result in criminal penalties.

Merino faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted.

“Youth in San Diego County deserve to have a safe and healthy environment, free of sexual or physical abuse — whether at school or at church,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement. “When that kind of abuse does happen, it’s critical that those incidents don’t fall through the cracks and that the people in positions of authority follow their duty to report suspected abuse so victims can be supported, and abusers can be held responsible for their crimes. Following the law of mandated reporting can potentially protect another child from being sexually abused by the perpetrator.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser