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An associate pastor and counselor of the Nuevas Buenas Church in Norwalk is accused of sexually assaulted at least 20 parishioners at his Norwalk church over an eight year period.
Detectives alleged that Jorge Juan Castro, 54, targeted female parishioners who were undocumented immigrants and spoke only Spanish, assaulting them at the church or during home visits. Castro allegedly told the women he had “healing hands” and threatening to call immigration officials if they reported him, authorities said. He was arrested and charged last week on suspicion of rape and related counts.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials claim the incidents date back his arrival in Los Angeles from Argentina in 2004. Detectives received information in April that Castro had allegedly sexually assaulted women from the church from October 2004 to September 2012.
The investigation began when the alleged victims implicated the suspect to a third party, and that person contacted sheriff’s deputies. Some victims provided evidence to detectives and their allegations led to charges being filed, Sgt. Al Garcia said. Only four of the alleged victims have come forward, Garcia said. The rest fear deportation.
Church leaders removed Castro from the church upon learning of the case and detectives went to the mostly Spanish-speaking congregation in hopes of gathering more information.
After surveillance by undercover major-crimes detectives, Castro, a 53-year-old Norwalk resident, was arrested on September 13, and booked on an arrest warrant for six felony charges of rape, oral copulation, and penetration by a foreign object. He remains in custody, with bail set at $2 million. The number of charges is expected to rise as authorities look for more potential victims.

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