Cesar Segura, pastor of the Spanish-speaking Cristo Redentor congregation at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Reading, Pa., was arrested Sept. 9 and charged with rape and related offenses.
The Reading Eagle reported that Segura admitted to sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl from Cristo Redentor. On Sept. 27, the girl testified in district court that she had been sexually assaulted about six times since age 9, but it ended earlier this year when she told adults about the incidents.
A police account says Segura brought the girl to the church offices to help with chores and assaulted her there and in an apartment. He told the girl to not tell her mother, promising to buy her candy, food and clothes, the report said.
Segura has since resigned as pastor of Cristo Redentor. He was released from the Berks County Prison, Leesport, Pa., after a judge reduced his bail from $1 million to $50,000. He will remain on leave until criminal proceedings conclude. A conviction for raping a child carries a mandatory sentence of five to 10 years in prison. At presstime, Segura had not entered a plea.
Catherine Ziel, executive associate for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod bishop, said Segura had been on leave for illness before the arrest. Ziel and David Strobel, the synod's bishop, asked for ELCA support and prayers for Segura and his family, the girl and her family, and the two congregations.
Segura, 55, was born in the Dominican Republic and was a Mennonite minister before being ordained 15 years ago at St. Mark.
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers