A 28-year-old man from Granada Hills has been charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl while working as a youth pastor. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, the alleged molestation occurred between March 2010 and May 2011 at the First Baptist Church in Venice. The alleged incidents resulted in 10 counts of a lewd act with a child, one count of contacting a minor for a sexual offense and one count of child pornography.
Sexual contact with a minor is a felony that can result in mandatory registration as a sex offender and years of incarceration. California Penal Code Section 288 states: “Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.”
Child molestation is a serious charge that can have life changing social and professional consequences for those who are faced with it. Even those who are accused of such crimes, but did not have any prior criminal record, suddenly find their names and photos splashed all over the news. While it is important to protect the youths of California, it is also important to remember that individuals are innocent until proven guilty.