By Michal Ortner
Geronimo Aguilar, the founder and former presiding pastor at Richmond Outreach Center (ROC), has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for actions taken against two young girls that involve s*xual assault. The actions of the pastor came to light earlier in the year, though they took place almost 20 years ago.
Aguilar is facing 40 years for the first and second counts, and an additional 20 years for counts three, four, five, six, and seven. After 20 years, he can petition for parole.
“We’re super grateful,” victim Nancy Mohr, who was 11 when she was molested, told a local news station. “We were grateful just for the guilty verdict three months ago. 40 years … That’s a lot of time.”
“I don’t have any doubt that your ministry did good things,” District Judge Louie Sturns said. “The state attorney general, the governor, the police chief, fire officials, an impressive number of people felt strongly about your ministry. That you were able to establish a ministry like that in such a short period of time is amazing.”
“You had an opportunity to do things that very few people could do,” Sturns said. “The fact that you had such great gifts and were not able to use them properly is what makes this case one of my most difficult,” he added.
About 4 women came forward to testify against Aguilar, stating that they had s*xual relationships with the pastor. Amber Baker, one of the victims, says that she has known the pastor since she was 5 years old. After she and her sister reached their teenage years, he took them to a timeshare to commit the acts. She says that he had two other girls attend the trip as well.
“He brought us alcohol, we got drunk and the rest is history,” Baker said. “I had just turned 18. We had sex. It was wrong. Just because it is not illegal doesn’t mean it is not wrong, and he was my pastor. I moved to Richmond to serve God.”
“Now he is sentenced in a time where it is going to stop him from doing this again,” Landi Vallejo, who was only 13 at the time of the assault, said.
“He has ruined people’s faiths, marriages, families, innocence … If he wants to have a ministry he can do it in prison,” Assistant District Attorney, Eric Nickols, said.
“We have some legal issues that we are going to appeal that have nothing to do with the facts of the case, but have to do with the statute of limitations,” Aguilar’s attorney, Thomas Pavlinic, stated.