SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A Santa Ana youth pastor is behind bars and accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls.
One of the alleged victims is 11-years-old, police said.
Authorities said Jesse Francisco Hernandez Perez, 22, texted the victim and ordered the girl into a second-floor church bathroom where he sexually assaulted her during church services in March.
He is accused of also sexually assaulting a 14-year-old, also a member of the church.
CBS2’s Michele Gile reports authorities believe there may be more victims.
Perez has been with the church for about three years. He was led into the police department early Wednesday morning in handcuffs.
Officials said Hernandez Perez is also a youth leader and a member of the church music group.
The church is named Iglesias de Restauracion on 17th Street in Santa Ana.
The alleged assault in the bathroom was “extremely disturbing,” says Sgt. Anthony Bertagna.
“Apparently, there are multiple levels to this church,” he said, “and one day a week the men and the women are supposedly separated and he took advantage of that.”
One woman familiar with the church said, “He looks familiar. There’s always a big group here with a lot of kids. And they always do food events, which they give food to people who come here, to the church. And I just hope there are no more victims. I’m praying for the little girl, that she can move on.”
Sex crimes detectives say the 14-year-old alleged victim told them she was assaulted last month during a youth service at Hernandez Perez’ Anaheim home.
Police said the pastor of the church has been very cooperative during their investigation and he is being helpful in the case.