Pastor gets 9 months in abuse of girl

Andres Garcia

by Rob Young / Appeal-Democrat

July 24, 2007

The devil did not make him do it, said a Yuba City pastor convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct with a 12-year-old girl.

But the devil does prey on people who have just completed fasting and taken communion – and those were the circumstances in April when he kissed the girl twice on the cheek and put his tongue in her mouth, Andres Garcia told detectives.

Garcia, 71, was sentenced Monday in Sutter County Superior Court to 270 days in jail, with credit for time served since his arrest.

Garcia, a retired Air Force sergeant, was pastor of the Primera Iglesia Bautista del Sur Colirio, 1641 Franklin Road, when he was arrested April 2.

The church did not respond to an inquiry about his status.

The girl lived near Garcia’s apartment in the 500 block of North Walton Avenue and did odd jobs for him. The incident did not involve the church.

According to a Sutter County Probation Department report, Garcia told a Yuba City police officer just before being arrested that he immediately knew he had done something wrong and stupid.

“Temptation is always around you but you just have to force yourself and I just didn’t make it,” he said later in an interview.

Garcia had no criminal record and denied any previous inappropriate behavior with young girls. He admitted he often hugged girls, but only those who had hugged him first.

“I am friendly, maybe overfriendly, but I never go beyond. I lead people to the Lord,” he said.

The 12-year-old came to Garcia’s apartment to borrow some glue to fix her younger brother’s toy. Just before she arrived, Garcia said, he put a piece of candy in his mouth.

“Taste this, it’s coffee,” Garcia said before putting his tongue in her mouth, the girl told investigators.

She ran home and told her mother, who called police.

The girl and her mother did not attend the sentencing and had plans to move out of state, according the probation report.

Garcia called the incident “something that just happened.”

“I did not have sexual feelings for her, just father-daughter,” he said.

Deputy Probation Agent Heather Walker called the incident less severe than many sexual offenses against children, but qualified her remark.

“What makes this case more aggravating is that the defendant was the pastor of a church, and should have held himself to a higher moral standard,” Walker wrote in the report.

Deputy District Attorney Martha Sequeira said Garcia will be on formal probation for three years. His apartment can be searched at any time for children or sexually stimulating material.

He must stay at least 50 yards from the girl’s home.

A psychologist advised the court that Garcia is unlikely to reoffend.

Garcia objected when told he will be a registered sex offender, according to the report.

“That is unjust. I am not a sexual predator,” he told investigators.

Garcia became a pastor in 1973 after serving 20 years in the Air Force. He attended Yuba College, Riverside College and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Center.

Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at ryoung@appealdemocrat.com.

http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/garcia_51594___article.html/girl_told.html

SNAP Baptist note: Andres Garcia was shown as an SBC-affiliated minister.

   
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