A youth leader at a Santa Ana church was arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting two girls, one of whom was attacked during services, police announced Wednesday.
Jesse Francisco Hernandez Perez, 22, was a member of Iglesia De Restauracion church for three years and was involved in the church’s music program.
One of the victims, 11, told police that Perez used text messages to lure her into a restroom during church services on March 5 and sexually assaulted her. The victim did not report the incident and continued to attend mass with her family, police said.
Another girl, 14, said she was assaulted by Perez while he was leading a youth program from his Anaheim home. The assault also took place in the bathroom. She reported the incident to the Anaheim Police Department sometime last month.
Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said detectives believe Perez lured both victims after establishing a relationship with them and after exchanging text messages.
“Eventually he does what predators do: he takes advantage of that relationship and that’s when the assault occurs,” Bertagna said.
The corporal said the fact that one of the assaults took place during church services is “extremely disturbing.”
Though he didn’t elaborate on the nature of the assaults, Bergtagna called them “violent sexual acts on two very young little girls.”
Santa Ana police arrested Perez Wednesday morning at his home. He faces multiple child abuse charges, police said. His bail was set at $100,000.
Police in Santa Ana worked closely with the Anaheim Police Department during the investigation.
Detectives believe Perez may have victimized more people and anyone with information about him can call Detective Corporal Johanna Perez at 714-245-8351.