Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Another teen girl accuses Brandon pastor of sexual abuse

Already facing three charges of sex abuse, Francisco Rios will now be charged a fourth time.

Already facing three charges of sex abuse, Francisco Rios will now be charged a fourth time.

TAMPA — Another teenage girl has come forward to accuse Brandon pastor Francisco Rios of sexually abusing her, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office officials said Monday.

Already facing three charges of lewd and lascivious molestation for incidents involving a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old in his congregation, Rios will now be charged a fourth time, officials said, for inappropriately touching another 15-year-old. Arrested in early April, Rios is the pastor of the Spanish-language evangelical church Casa de Amor.

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office said detectives had known about and tried to contact the girl, but in the year since the alleged incident she had left Florida and couldn't be reached until recently.

At a court hearing Monday, sheriff's Detective Chris Seaton said the girls told similar stories of being alone with Rios in his office at the church on Windhorst Road. The 12-year-old said there had been multiple times when Rios slapped her behind, kissed her and touched her inappropriately, Seaton said. The first 15-year-old to come forward told the detective that Rios began touching her several years ago, but in 2013, his actions escalated.

"He convinced her these actions were to help relieve her of stress and were done because of his love for her," Seaton said.

The girl's 43-year-old mother has also accused Rios of molesting her, saying he told her he was touching her to cure her of herpes. Prosecutors have not filed charges based on her assertion.

Rio's attorney, Kevin Napper, said the girls' allegations stem from an old dispute within the church over changes Rios made to its youth dance program. The mother of the 15-year-old who first reported being abused has "profound mental health issues," Napper said, including bipolar disorder. The woman made similar allegations in the past, he said.

Dressed in white, Casa de Amor congregants and members of Rios' family took up half the courtroom in a show of support for their pastor, who beamed at the gathering from his seat. Bail was set at $150,000.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at aphillips@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3354.

Another teen girl accuses Brandon pastor of sexual abuse 04/21/14 [Last modified: Monday, April 21, 2014 10:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Before Janessa Shannon's death, parents traded accusations of abuse

    Crime

    TAMPA — Long before Janessa Shannon's remains were discovered in a Hillsborough County nature preserve, her parents tried to convince court officials that she was in danger.

    From her own family.

    Janessa Shannon, 13, was found dead July 12 in the Triple Creek Nature Preserve in Hillsborough County. [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]
  2. Ronde Barber: Want intimidation? Look at past Bucs teams

    Bucs

    Ronde Barber says these days "it's hard to find throwbacks, where you go, 'That guy is a badass.' Where do you find that now? It's such a show-off sport." (Times 2012)
  3. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 16, 2017

    Blogs

    Seems like Broward County has started a domino effect. It was the first school board to commit to filing a lawsuit against the state and its controversial education bill, House Bill 7069. Then, the St. Lucie County School Board signed on, too. A running tally of school boards that have reportedly expressed interested in …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  4. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.