Pastor accused of sex assault

| 16/09/2013

(CNS): Former TV personality and youth preacher at the Church of God in George Town appeared in Grand Court Monday on trial for one count of indecent assault. Felix Manzanares is charged with sexually assaulting a woman in her West Bay home on the evening of 19 December 2011. The woman, who took to the stand at the opening of the case, told the court that she knew Manzanares well through the church, where she played and sang in the worship band. She told the court that on the evening in question the young pastor had pestered her to come to her house to talk, and when he did he sexually assaulted her. Manzanares has denied the charge and claims that what advances he made were welcomed.

The court heard the witness say that the pastor, who lives in Bodden Town, had “tried to rape” her when he kissed and fondled her breasts and inner thighs and made unwelcome sexual advances in her home, which she had rebutted.

Thewitness said that she had declined several invitations from the young preacher for lunch and dinner earlier that day and told him she was busy with other plans and was not able to meet him. She explained she had to visit her parents after work before going to dinner with another friend and that they would have to arrange another time to meet. However, when she arrived at her parents’ home that evening to drop off medication, Manzanares was waiting for her and pressed to come to her house to talk for just a few minutes.

Stating that she felt some level of obligation to the young pastor, who “had driven all the way to West Bay” and seemed very anxious to talk with her, she reluctantly agreed. She told the court that she allowed him to follow her for the short distance to her house, where, she said, he had been in the past.

On arrival, as she questioned him to find out what he needed to talk about, he instead made unwelcome advances and, despite her refusals, he persisted, she told the court, and said it was not until the arrival of another friend at the house that the unwelcome sexual advances stopped.

During cross examination the witness, who admitted she was several years older than the young pastor, whom she referred to as ‘a kid’, denied wanting Manzanares to kiss her or engaging in behaviour to encourage his advances, as suggested by the defence attorney.

Defence counsel Keva Ried suggested that the witness was not telling the truth and put it to her that she had engaged in, and enjoyed, two French kisses with Manzaneres and that he had not fondled her breasts or touched her inner thigh but had merely touched her foot and the side of her body.

However, the witness insisted that the pastor, who is a married man, had made several unwanted advances and had become aggressive in his persistence, as he tried to kiss her and pushed his hand up her skirt.

She said that had her friend not arrived at her home, she believed Manzanares would have tried much harder. She told the court that she was shocked by what had happened, and when her friend did arrive at the house she went out to immediately greet him, and that was when she told him that the defendant had tried to rape her.

The trial, which continues tomorrow, is being presided over by Justice Alex Henderson and is set before a jury of four women and three men. During the selection of the jury panel more than 20 potential jurists were challenged or dismissed as a result of their connection to the defendant via friends, family or church. Three jurors who failed to show up to court were fined $500 by the judge.

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Category: Crime

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