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According to the police, the person under arrest is acused of sexually assaulting a 17 year old girl inside the church building. Neither the pastor nor the community are part of the Spanish Federation of Evangelical Entities.
The Spanish National Police has confirmed the arrest of Carlos Humberto Ortiz, pastor of the Christ Ebenezer Church in the Madrid neighbourhood of Carabanchel Alto. He has been charged with a crime of sexual assault and corruption of minors.
According to the headquarters of the Police of Madrid, Ortiz was detained on October 10 and later freed with charges. His passport has been withdrawn. According to local television broadcaster TeleMadrid, the pastor is originally from Honduras (Central America).
He allegedly raped a 17 years old girl inside the church building, after extorting her with a sexual video that she had previously shared with another teenager in the community.
According to the police, Ortiz was aware of the financial vulnerability of the family of the girl and paid her to persuade her against reporting him to the police.
The church in Madrid belongs to the international organization Ebenezer Ministries, established in Guatemala. The group of churches is also present in Honduras and Spain.
EVANGELICAL FEDERATION REACTS
The Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (Ferede) reacted to the news that appeared in several Spanish media issuing a statement saying that “neither the person arrested nor the church linked to this incident are part of our federation”.
Ferede is the official representative of evangelical churches and organisations to the Spanish state.
Due to the independent nature of the church, the “capacity of taking action is limited”, Ferede said, adding that they do now have additional information to offer other than that already published in the media.
“Nevertheless, we feel affected bearing in mind that such charges have been placed on someone who calls himself a ‘minister of the gospel’, people of which everyone expects the highest ethical and moral exemplariness”, Ferede added.
Ferede emphasised that it applies a “zero tolerance policy” in issues related to sexual crimes, and there have been “preventive” initiatives developed in the last years, such as asking evangelical pastors a police criminal record check.
“Reactive” actions are also developed by the evangelical federation, such as recommending the “sensitive support and care for the victims from the first moment, the immediate report to the police of suspected crimes, the notification to the Ferede and the strengthening of the prevention protocols” in churches where there are suspicions of a possible case of abuse.
“Unfortunately, these kind of abuses happen not only in churches, but also in schools, gyms, sport clubs, etc, and even in the sphere of family, with the common denominator of a ‘situation of power and authority used against vulnerable people’, such as young people”, Ferede adds in the statement.
“The gravity of the consequences of these kind of crimes demands us all to be alert and not underestimate the preventive actions recommended”.