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South L.A. Church Leader Pleads No Contest To Sexually Assaulting Girl, 14

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A South Los Angeles church leader pleaded no contest Monday to having unlawful sex with a 14-year-old female parishioner, authorities reported.

L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Abzug sentenced Leonel Pelayo, 45, to one year in county jail. Pelayo was also ordered him to stay away from the girl, who is now 15, according to Deputy District Attorney Martha Carrillo.

The judge suspended a four-year state prison term that Pelayo will not have to serve if he complies with the terms of his probation, which is set to last five years.

Pelayo, who prosecutors said was a pastor at Iglesia Apostolica Monte de Horeb, was accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with the teen etween
July 1 and Aug. 20 of last year.

Pelayo’s attorney, Edward R. Munoz, described his client as “an active member of the church, “ but said he was unaware whether Pelayo was a pastor.

Pelayo was arrested Sept. 9 by detectives from the LAPD’s Abused Child Unit. He was released a few hours later after posting $140,000 bail..

The pastor befriended the victim in a church youth group and took her to several vacant locations where he sexually assaulted her, according to a statement released last year by the LAPD.

»RELATED: South LA Church Leader Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Girl

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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