A Maryland pastor has been charged with sexually assaulting two members of his Takoma Park church who had gone to him for spiritual guidance and healing.
Erick Odir Vidal Fuentes, 37, of Hyattsville, has been charged with second-degree rape, fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault. He is being held without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center.
Detectives said they believe there may more victims and are urging them to come forward.
Speaking during a news conference Friday afternoon, lead Det. Charles Earle said the Takoma Park Police Department began its investigation in June when a woman came to police to report being assaulted by Fuentes, a pastor at Iglesia Pentecostal “El Fin Viene.”
Not long after, detectives identified another woman who also reported being assaulted.
“During the course of the investigation and interviews we conducted, we strongly believe that there may be other victims out there,” Earle said.
The charging documents describe in detail two separate instances where Fuentes allegedly brought the women to the church — located in a strip mall off New Hampshire Avenue — under false pretenses and assaulted them.
In the first case, the woman told police she had injured her ankle and her mother advised her that the pastor could give her a massage using special spiritual oils with healing powers. The woman told police Fuentes picked her up at her house last September and drove her to the church where he had her lie on a blanket on the floor. When the massage began, she said the pastor began touching the thigh of her uninjured leg.
She reported telling the pastor several times she wasn’t comfortable and stopped him from pulling down her underwear several times but he persisted and touched her inappropriately anyway, according to the charging documents.
She told police she “stayed silent in fear and cried.”
The second woman told police she was assaulted in July when she went to the church with Fuentes for a private prayer session to pray for her ill father, according to the charging documents. The pastor put oil on his hands and began to rub the victim’s forehead and then began touching other parts of her body against her will, according to the documents.
During the news conference Friday, the detective declined to discuss specifics of the allegations against Fuentes, who has been with the church for three years, citing the ongoing investigation but said Fuentes exercised power over the women owing to his role as pastor of the church.
“People have faith and they believe in their faith … The people have confidence and trust in them,” he said. “And we believe that’s a big part of how these people were targeted and victimized, and they were taken advantage of.”
The detective stressed that Takoma Park is a “sanctuary city,” meaning the police department limits its cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
“We are not concerned about immigration status, but we are concerned if people are victimized in this jurisdiction,” Earle said. “We take that very seriously … So we’re encouraging any one out there that may have been a victim” to contact police, he said.
Det. Charles Earle can be reached at 240-298-5500. People who only speak Spanish can contact victim/witness coordinator Claudia Tolson at 240-610-8284.
Below is a map of where the church is located.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.
Below is the Takoma Park Police Department’s news release, in Spanish.
El Jefe Antonio DeVaul de la Policía de Takoma Park anuncia el arresto de Erick Odir Vidal Fuentes, 37 años, de Hyattsville, Maryland, por violación en segundo grado, delito sexual en cuarto grado y asalto en segundo grado.
El 21 de Junio, 2021, la Policía de Takoma Park inició una investigación sobre las acusaciones de que Fuentes, un pastor en la Iglesia Pentecostal El Fin Viene, ubicada en la cuadra 7500 de New Hampshire Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland, agredió sexualmente a dos mujeres miembras de la iglesia.
La Policía de Takoma Park cree que puede haber más víctimas y solicitan que cualquier persona que crea que es/fue victima, o si tiene informacion con respeto a las agresiones sexuales, por favor contacte al Detective Charles Earle al 240-298-5500. Si usted solo habla español, por favor contacte nuestra Coordinadora de Victima/Testigos, Claudia Tolson, al 240-610-8284.