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Pastor Uses Fear of the Devil to Get Sex

SAN DIEGO – A pastor who allegedly used the fear of the devil to induce several undocumented women to have sex with him at the homes of congregation members pleaded innocent today to criminal charges.

Carlos Romero, 59, faces up to five years and eight months in state prison if convicted of two counts of inducing sex by fear and one count of making a criminal threat against three alleged victims, said Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza.

The prosecutor alleged that Romero induced the women to consent to sex, telling them that if they didn’t, the devil would do something to them.

“He admitted to police that he knew what he was doing was wrong,” Espinoza said outside court.

The defendant allegedly threatened one woman with injury if she told anyone about the sexual encounters, the prosecutor said.

According to La Mesa police, Romero is a minister to about a dozen people and holds nondenominational services in the homes of his Apostolic Church members.

Espinoza asked anyone with information about alleged illegal acts committed by the defendant to call La Mesa police at (619) 667-1419.

Romero was arrested a week ago in Kearny Mesa, where he worked as a transit employee.

An investigation was launched May 8 when a 31-year-old La Mesa woman reported Romero to police, authorities said. She alleged that her pastor told her that only by having sex with him could she be protected from the devil, La Mesa police said.

The woman claimed she had been induced to have sex with the cleric several times. During the investigation, police found two other women who told the same story, authorities said.

One of the women — a 38-year-old — allegedly started having sex with the defendant in January. The other alleged victim — a 37-year-old woman — began having sex with Romero in March of 1996, police said.

Romero remains free on $45,000 bail. Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh set a readiness conference for Aug. 6 and a preliminary hearing for Aug. 13.



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