Wednesday, 7 January 2009


SANTA ANA – An Anaheim pastor, who had videotaped himself molesting a 13-year-old parishioner in a church office, cried and clutched a Bible behind his back Monday as he was led from a courtroom in handcuffs after pleading guilty to 34 felony sex counts.
Raul Rosas Hernandez, 44, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno to 90 years in prison after he admitted molesting four girls and one boy over a 10-year span beginning in 1996.
Briseno said the sentence is tantamount to a life term because Hernandez must serve 85 percent of the 90 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown said Hernandez, who was the pastor of Faith in Action Church, could have faced a life term plus 214 years in prison had he been convicted at trial.
She said she agreed to the 90-year sentence in part to save victims the psychological trauma of testifying at Hernandez's trial and – in one case – watching the graphic videotape.
The tape shows a naked Hernandez engaging in various sex acts in his church's office with the 13-year-old girl, Brown said.
At one point in the video, Hernandez answers a ringing telephone with the salutation "God bless you," in Spanish, Brown said. The tape closes with Hernandez in the pulpit delivering a sermon on blasphemy, Brown added.
That victim was in court to watch Hernandez plead guilty, but she did not comment.
A second victim, who had been molested by Hernandez over a period of seven years, told Briseno "I am thankful that this is over and that he didn't get away with it." She said she felt that he had violated his position of trust, adding, "I am not going to let him ruin my life."
Senior Deputy Public Defender Lisa Eyanson said Hernandez decided to plead guilty because he, too, did not want to put the victims through the ordeal of a trial.
He pleaded guilty to multiple counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon children, other sexual acts, and distributing pornography to a minor, plus sentencing enhancements for substantial sexual conduct with children.
He also admitted to failing to appear in court after he was released on $100,000 bail when he was first arrested in the case in February 2006. Prosecutors said at the time that they believed Hernandez was trying to collect money so he could flee to Mexico and avoid prosecution.
Several members of his congregation showed up in court to support him during his earlier court appearances. But on Monday, the only spectators were his victims and their friends.
After the sentencing, Brown said "it was the epitome of hypocrisy for him to be crying and clutching his Bible in court today. He wasn't crying and clutching his Bible when he was violating his position of trust as a pastor and molesting his victims."