Alabama pastor pleads guilty
to sexual abuse of 3 girls

 

 

 

 

Ex-pastor pleads guilty in child sexual abuse cases

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

NANCY WILSTACH

News staff writer

A former pastor of Spanish ministries at the First Baptist Church of Pelham pleaded guilty Monday morning to three charges of first-degree sexual abuse involving three girls younger than 12 years old.

Luis Federico Garcia, 66, of Alabaster entered the pleas without a sentencing agreement from the district attorney's office. Circuit Judge Hub Harrington set the sentencing for Feb. 12. Garcia could face 10 years in prison on each count.

The victims were in the church's Hispanic community and were 6, 7 and 8 years old at the time the incidents occurred, according to court records.

When Garcia tried to tell Harrington details of his psychological problems Monday, Harrington halted him and said, "This is something we will take up in detail at your sentencing."

Garcia conferred with an interpreter in Spanish before pleading through his lawyer, Public Defender Rick Vickers. Vickers said the pleas were being entered in Garcia's "best interests."

Once Harrington ruled in an earlier hearing that Garcia's confession to Pelham police was admissible, Vickers said, the public defender viewed the videotaped interviews with the victims, in which a social worker questioned them about the circumstances of their contact with Garcia.

"We don't have anything to present to a jury from the defendant's standpoint," Vickers said. "We believe the state will be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that Garcia is guilty of the abuse.

That's why Assistant Shelby County District Attorney Angela Dunn declined to deal on the sentencing, she said. "We are going to ask for the max."

Garcia remains free on $30,000 bond. Harrington ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

E-mail: nwilstach@bhamnews.com