COVINA (CBSLA) — A local pastor accused of sexually assaulting a preteen girl in a Covina hotel room posted an emotional video in which he claimed his innocence Friday night, all as he continued to evade police.
Pastor Douglas Rivera is accused of assaulting a girl visiting from China at the Vanllee Hotel and Suites in Covina Wednesday night.
In a video posted to Instagram Friday night, Rivera, recording from inside a vehicle, tried to vindicate himself, saying the accusations against him are a misunderstanding.
“I did not do nothing wrong. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Rivera, a pastor who leads a congregation in Glendale.
“Something happened in that hotel, and that’s the simple answer. I am just finished with my lawyer. I am going to jail on Wednesday with the lawyer to submit myself so they could continue their investigation. There is absolutely no truth.”
“I love you, Los Angeles. Please keep me in prayer. God will take his truth out. I love you,” Rivera ended his video, almost weeping.
Members of Rivera’s church told police early Friday he would be turning himself in to police, but he never showed.
Police say Rivera drove through the Vanllee Hotel parking lot until he saw a lit room with the drapes open Wednesday night. He then parked the truck facing inside of the room, where two preteen girls on a school trip from China were staying.
Rivera allegedly masturbated while watching the two girls, then got out of the truck and stood outside their window pretending to be on the phone for more than 30 minutes, police said.
He then walked through the hotel and forced his way into the room once the girls opened the door, believing it was their chaperone, police said. One girl was assaulted before Rivera took off in his truck.
The girls did not speak English.
Rivera was identified as a person of interest Friday after police released security video of him from the night of the assault.
Police served a search warrant at a Baldwin Hills house thought to be Rivera’s home Friday night and raided it, pulling boxes of evidence from the residence.
A large truck similar to the one seen in security video from the night of the incident was being towed from the home. Neighbors said it had recently been painted, with one witness saying it had been done as late as Thursday.
Rivera is named as the pastor of God’s Gypsy Christian Church/Los Angeles Church in Glendale on the church’s Instagram account, which has been set to private.
CBS2 spoke to Todd Leonard, pastor at Glendale City Church. He said Rivera is the pastor of a separate congregation at the church and that the two had a rental arrangement in which Rivera used the facility twice a week.
Lt. Rick Walczak told CBS2 he believes Rivera’s promise to turn himself in to police Wednesday is “self-serving and an attempt to mislead people.”
Anyone with information about the assault or Rivera’s whereabouts can call Covina police Detective Ramirez at (626) 384-5621.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)