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Orange County pastor convicted of molesting 14-year-old parishoner

March 14, 2011 |  6:04 pm

A former pastor of the Apostolic Christian Church in San Clemente was convicted Monday of molesting a 14-year-old girl who had been volunteering in the church office, the Orange County district attorney's office announced.

Ricardo Avalos Maffey, 44, was found guilty by an Orange County Superior Court jury of five felony counts of lewd acts upon a child, and one felony count of contacting a minor with the intent to engage in child molestation.

He faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison when he is sentenced April 15.

Between May and August 2008, Maffey made sexual advances while the two were alone after prayer services or in the church office, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jennifer Walker told the jury during the four day trial last week.

The sexual advances came to light after the victim's mother discovered emails Maffey had sent to the girl and contacted the church, prosecutors said. Authorities said Maffey sent numerous emails to the girl disclosing his sexual urges and arranging meetings.

The girl testified at the trial that Maffey, who works in community relations for the city of Santa Ana, told her to delete his emails to prevent her parents from reading them and also advised her to email him at work so his wife would not discover the emails on his personal account.

Maffey confessed the conduct to police officers, according to evidence presented in court. But in court last week, he denied kissing the girl on the lips, saying that he had initiated kisses on her forehead and cheek seven times as part of Pentecostal customs. However, he added that on one occasion, the girl unexpectedly kissed him because it was his birthday but he had ended it quickly.

The girl's mother testified in court, through a Spanish interpreter, that she and her husband were active in the church and that her daughter helped Maffey with the church music, spending as long as 45 minutes alone with him in a church office before services.

The girl's mother testified in court that when she told Maffey she would report the behavior, "He told me I should think about my situation because I was here illegally."

Walker said that Maffey admitted that he had told the mother that if law enforcement were approached, "they will investigate both of us," but added it had nothing to do with her immigration status.

The church, which held services in English and Spanish, rented space at a Lutheran Church and a business complex, but it is no longer operating in San Clemente, Walker said.

-- Margot Roosevelt