A 39-year-old Westminster pastor has been charged with molestation of a minor as well as possession of child pornography. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the alleged lewd act occurred in the parking lot of an Orange County grocery store. An 8-year-old girl and her mother told Huntington Beach police that the man rubbed the girl’s legs, thighs, and arms before giving her $40 to stay quiet. During the investigation, officials say they found images of child pornography on the suspect’s computer. The pastor faces several charges, including lewd acts on a child under 14, kidnapping for child molest, attempting to dissuade a witness, and possession of child pornography. His penalties could include 30 years to life in state prison.
California Penal Code 288 makes it a crime to commit an act of lewd or lascivious nature on a minor under the age of 14. Lewd act cases typically involve accusations of inappropriate touching or fondling. It is often challenging to uncover the truth in these types of cases. It is common for the only evidence to be the words of a young child and for juries to seek the most severe penalties possible because of the age of the alleged victim.
Depending on the circumstances of the incident, the resulting charges can be a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction for a sex crime involving a minor can have serious consequences, including incarceration, fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. The stigma of being labeled as a sex offender can potentially have life-changing consequences for an individual.
The skilled Westminster sex crime defense attorneys at Sitkoff & Hanrahan have a proven record of successfully handling sex crime cases in southern California. If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime, please call our offices at (866) 430-8383 for a free case evaluation.