Friday, October 14, 2011

Four women come forward against Texas Pastor for sexual assault

AUSTIN -- An Elgin pastor has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting children in his congregation.

Austin police say in June four women in their 20s and 30s came into APD headquarters to report they had been victims of sexual abuse as children.

One woman, now 25, claims her former pastor, Francisco Antonio Hernandez, molested her in 1991 in his South Austin home.

The other three women are sisters. They say they too were abused in his home in 1989. KVUE spoke to the oldest sister who is now 31. She asked that we not reveal her identity.

"I thought it was my fault, you know, what happened, and so all this time I've been carrying that," she said.

The woman says her family met Hernandez, or who she came to know as Pastor Javier, at a local grocery store. He invited them to a church service. She says he would preach several times a week at the homes of church members. She says at the time, there were 25 to 30 families involved, and she remembers the children not being so nice to him.

"I know why now, because he had already done that stuff to them, tried to touch them and all that," she said.

When she was in fourth grade, her parents went out of town for a weekend leaving she and her sisters in the pastor's care. While inside his home on West Wind Trail, she says he sexually assaulted them.

She says he paid her $20 to keep everything a secret adding if she didn't, something bad might happen.

"For me and my situation it was hard carrying all this for the longest," she said. "Now that I have my kids, you know, what if he's doing it to other people?"

Last spring she reached out to other victims.

"They all started talking, and they came to me, even guy friends," she said.
In May, she says the pastor showed up at her parents' house with an apology.

"He said, 'Sorry for what I did to your children, and I want forgiveness,'" the victim said.

Still, she went to police.

On Thursday, officers arrested the pastor at his home in Elgin. He is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. He is in the Travis County Jail with a bond of $200,000.

"He messed up our lives, and he's gonna pay it; he's gonna pay," the victim tearfully said.

While still emotional about what happened, the victim says she's relieved he's in jail and wants others to speak out.

"Come forward and if anything that's why the law is here to protect us. He's in jail. There's nothing is going to do to us. It's where he belongs," she said.

If you are a victim or think you know someone who is, police ask that you call the child abuse unit at 974-6880.

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