Charges have been filed against a man accused of sexually assaulting three young girls he met at a Santa Ana church, and prosecutors are seeking the public’s help to identify other potential victims, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Carlos Ramirez Valdez, 57, of Riverside, faces eight total felony counts: five of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, and three of oral copulation or sexual penetration of a child 10 or younger, a news release from the DA’s office stated.
Valdez is accused of sexually assaulting the girls between 2014 and 2019, beginning when they were each younger than 10 years old.
The defendant is currently a pastor at International Mission Church USA in Santa Ana, and from 2014 to 2017 he was a member of of Iglesia De Dios Ebenezer Church in Santa Ana, prosecutors said.
Valdez is suspected of repeatedly sexually assaulting one of the victims over the course of three years, beginning when she was 8, the release stated. He allegedly lured the child into his van in the church parking lot or to the church’s basement.
She later reported being abused to the school counselor, according to the DA’s office.
Two more cases were reported in January 2020. The first came to light when a girl reported to the Garden Grove Police Department that Valdez had sexually assaulted her in 2015, while the then 9-year-old received a ride from the suspect on her way home from church, the release said.
And another girl told the Riverside Police Department that she was sexually assaulted by the defendant at the age of 8 in 2017, as she played outside, prosecutors said.
Valdez was arrested last Friday, inmate records showed. A booking photo was not released.
If convicted as charged, he faces a potential prison sentence of 120 years to life.
Valdez’s arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 6 and he’s being held at Theo Lacy Facility in Orange on $1 million bail.
Investigators believe Valdez may have victimized others due to access to children in his position as a pastor. Anyone with information about other possible victims is urged to contact Santa Ana Police Department Detective J. Gaeta by calling 714-245-8350 or emailing email@example.com.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously by dialing Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-847-6227.