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More sex charges filed against ex-pastor

The former pastor of a church in Brandon was arrested this week on charges he sexually abused a 12-year-old Pasco girl.

Daniel Gomez, 38, was pastor of Center of Unction Church of the Nazarene until November, when Hillsborough authorities charged him with three counts of molesting a 12-year-old girl.

Out on bail on those charges, Gomez turned himself in Tuesday to Pasco authorities, who charged him with lewd and lascivious assault on a child under 16.

Pasco sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin would not say whether the victim in the Pasco case — also a 12-year-old girl — was the same as the Hillsborough case.

Church officials removed Gomez from his post last year pending the initial investigation. The Central Florida District Churches of the Nazarene, which oversees the Brandon church, said in a statement that it was cooperating with authorities.

"The safety of our youth in our churches is extremely important to us," wrote Larry Dennis, the organization's superintendent.

Messages left Wednesday at the Center of Unction Church in Brandon were not returned.

A Pasco complaint affidavit says Gomez went to the girl's house in April 2005 while her parents were away. The girl lives in Pasco County, but sheriff's officials would not disclose the town or any identifying information due to the nature of the allegation.

The affidavit says the girl let Gomez into the house, and he kissed and fondled her. He then exposed himself and removed the girl's pants with the intention of having sex, the affidavit states.

Tobin said there were multiple incidents between Gomez and the victim, but he declined to elaborate.

The girl did not tell her parents about the abuse for more than two years because she didn't want her father to know, Tobin said. She finally told her mother in November 2007, he said. At that point, Pasco detectives and child protective investigators began an investigation.

Hillsborough authorities arrested Gomez on Nov. 30 on three counts of lewd or lascivious conduct.

From May to November 2005, Gomez repeatedly molested a 12-year-old girl, said J.D. Callaway, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The crimes occurred in multiple locations, Callaway said, adding that the girl was not a relative but was known to Gomez.

Gomez, who had no prior arrests in Florida, posted $22,500 bail in December to be released from the Hillsborough County Jail. Court records show those charges are still pending.

Gomez, of 8239 Durham Station Drive in Tampa, remained in Land O'Lakes Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail Wednesday on the Pasco charge. Jail records indicate he was born in Bogota, Colombia, and was being held pending notification of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Nomaan Merchant can be reached at nmerchant@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

More sex charges filed against ex-pastor 07/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 4, 2008 3:57pm]
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