Ex -pastor claims sexual advance was encouraged

| 18/09/2013

(CNS): Former youth pastor and TV personality, Felix Manzanares, denied sexually assaulting a 41-year-old woman from West Bay in December 2011, when he took the stand on Tuesday in his own defence. Manzanares told the court that he was receiving a “sexual tone” from the victim as a result of various comments she made. The jury stifled laughter as the defendant stood in the witness box to illustrate what had given the former church youth leader, who is a married man, the impression that the complainant was being flirtatious. He also told the court that the two of them had come to an agreement just days prior to the alleged offense to meet and "catch up” but had not managed to do so due to other responsibilities.

During his testimony, the 27-year-old defendant said he celebrated his birthday with his wife days before the incident and had arranged with the complainant to meet the following day for lunch.

However, these plans were delayed until 19 December, when he claimed they decided to meet at her parent's house when he would be visiting them as normal as a pastor with the Church of God. The plan was that he would then follow the woman home to have a friendly meeting. The accused said he was aware that the complainant had dinner plans that night but was told he could remain at the residence until her friend had arrived.

Manzanares testified that when they arrived at the home, he made them both a cocktail while the complainant went to change into comfortable clothing. He then followed her to her bedroom, where she showed him a pair of shoes that Manzanares had jokingly tagged as 'stripper shoes' via a BlackBerry Messenger conversation the night before after she had posted a picture of the new shoes as her BBM profile.

After that the two returned to the living room and began having a normal conversation before, he said, he leaned over and began French kissing the West Bay woman.

Manzanares admitted that he had rubbed her feet asking to see her 'stripper toes' and said the complainant responded by saying that it was her 'sweet spot' and he should stop before “clothes started to come off”.

The ex-pastor said his accuser had made no indication that he had crossed any boundaries or wished for him to stop and had also made a comment about having a "thing for younger guys". He told the court that he then followed her into her kitchen, where she was washing up, and stroked her from the shoulder to her waist but that his gestures were not rejected.

During cross examination, the crown counsel put it to him that although the victim had said she had a "thing" for younger men, she did not say that she was attracted to men who are married. He was asked to explain what he meant when he said that the complainant was being flirtatious, to which he stood up and shimmied about, causing the judge and jury to laugh.

Prior to his giving evidence, a recording of a reconciliation meeting held between the accused, the complainant and a fellow member of the church was played for the jury. It was brought to their attention that the victim was unaware that Manzanares had been recording at the time of the meeting. 

When asked by the prosecution why he had done so, the defendant responded, "I found it strange that she wanted to initiate a private meeting with me," he said, after she'dmade such malicious claims about him.

"I was safe-guarding myself,” he said about the recording, on which he was heard expressing deep remorse for his actions repeatedly and accepting the repercussions of his actions.

Manzanares is expected to continue under cross examination in the Grand Court tomorrow at 10:30am.

Related article on CNS:

Pastor accused of sex assault

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