LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) - Steven Joseph Perez, 64, from Los Lunas was arrested May 16 in Colorado by Pueblo Police for sexually molesting a girl back in October. But his neighbors back home are just now finding out about it.
Perez founded God's Church on the Move in Los Chavez. According to Pueblo Police, he was staying with the girl's family in Colorado for a few months late last year to "help out with bills by paying rent." The family used to attend Perez's church.
But according to the criminal complaint, the young girl, 12, told police she went to "Pastor Steve's room" one night to watch a movie. She said Perez fondled her. The girl told police she pretended to be asleep because she was scared and uncomfortable.
But Perez told police he's innocent. In his arrest warrant, Perez told police, "we were just wrestling, me and (victim), there was nothing sexual, (victim) is known for lying."
Perez continued saying, "you know how it is when you are wrestling? You get hurt and places on your body get touched without meaning anything by it?"
Perez is no longer the pastor at God's Church on the Move. His son now preaches there. People living in the kid-friendly neighborhood behind the small church were shocked to hear the allegations.
"I think (Perez) should be locked up, put away and throw the key away, so it's really rough to hear that," said neighbor Anthony Chavez. "It's sad actually."
Police did not immediately take Perez into custody back in October, citing his health issues. Perez is on an oxygen tank.
Perez posted his $20,000 bond on May 17.