Saturday, February 8, 2003
Trial ordered for Jehovah's elder
By Heidi Rowley
A former Jehovah's Witnesses elder admitted to feeling "lust" toward a 12-year-old congregation member in a statement made to police last December.
Louis Anguiano, 38, made the statements to a Visalia police detective after the youth told police that Anguiano had groped and grabbed her.
Anguiano appeared in court Friday for a preliminary hearing in which Judge Ronn Couillard decided there was enough evidence for him to stand trial. Anguiano has pleaded innocent to the allegation of continuous sexual abuse.
The only witness to speak at the preliminary hearing was Mark Lopez, a Visalia police detective who interviewed the victim, her mother and Anguiano. Lopez said the youth told him about four incidents between the spring of 2001 and February 2002 of Anguiano making inappropriate displays of affection toward her.
The first time, Lopez said the youth told him, Anguiano attempted to put some money in the front of her underwear.
"She thought it was sexual," Lopez said.
Lopez said Anguiano told him they were playing a game, and he tried to put money in her pocket.
The victim also told Lopez that on another occasion when she was in the bathroom at Anguiano's home, he offered to brush her hair but was "bumping into" her buttocks with his pelvis.
Lopez said the victim and her mother believed Anguiano was "over-friendly" by buying things for her and taking excessive photographs. On one occasion, Lopez said, Anguiano bought the girl, who was 10 or 11 at the time, a pair of small, see-through thong underwear.
The girl's mother threw the underwear away.
In the final incident, early last year, Lopez said the girl told him she was in her bedroom when Anguiano walked in and asked her to dance.
When she wouldn't dance with him, he lifted her out of her chair and pulled her close.
Lopez said the girl's mother walked into the room and Anguiano left within a few minutes.
The investigator said Anguiano acknowledged that he had known the victim's family for several years through other Jehovah's Witnesses and that they were family friends.
"He said he liked to grab her buttocks and did it too much," Lopez said.
The interaction created tension between Anguiano, the family and the church and he was removed as an elder.
Lopez said Anguiano said he knew that his actions were wrong and even sent a letter apologizing to the family.