A California pastor accused of forcing his way into a hotel room and sexually assaulting one of two young girls under the age of 13 who were visiting from China, says he was just at the "wrong place at the wrong time" after surveillance video showed him lurking around at the hotel prior to the attack.
The Covina Police Department alleged in a release last Wednesday that Pastor Douglas Rivera, 40, of Gods Gypsy Christian Church in Los Angeles was the prime suspect in the attack on the minors but he denied any involvement while he was on the lam a few days after the attack.
"I did not do nothing wrong. Something happened in that hotel, and that's the simple answer," Rivera said in an Instagram clip posted online Friday, according to KTLA5.
On Sunday morning at about 11:00 a.m., Rivera presented himself at the Covina Police Department with his lawyer, where he was arrested and booked on multiple charges, including sexual assault, indecent exposure and burglary with intent to commit a crime. He posted bail set at $280,000 and was released three hours later.
Police allege that last Wednesday evening, Rivera drove through the parking lot of the Vanllee Hotel and Suites until he saw a lit room with drapes open. He then parked his truck facing the interior of the hotel room the two minors were inside and masturbated as he watched them. Rivera later exited his vehicle and stood outside of the window of the girls' hotel room and pretended to be on the phone for more than 30 minutes. He then walked through the hotel and forced his way into the room when the minors opened the door thinking it was their chaperone. He assaulted one of the girls then fled in his truck, police say.
In a statement to ABC 7, a member of Rivera's church said the accusations against their pastor is as shocking to the church as the general public.
"We are as gypsies a Christian based community, which is why this horrific news had such an impact on us. It has shocked and traumatized each and every one of us. The congregation who loved and trusted their pastor are also victims of this despicable act. We ask that the finger not be pointed toward Christianity or the church, for the horror that has been done here should reflect on only one person. The monster that did it," the member said.
"Our eyes are now open to the reality of abuse as this is not something that happens often in our community and I could only hope that through this we become more aware and educated on the topic. Our hearts are broken. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victim and her family. As well as the families affected by this. We are in prayer for God's peace and comfort for the victim at this time."
Rivera's church rented space from Glendale City Church, where a senior pastor, Todd Leonard, said the allegations against the pastor were surprising and he was "heartbroken" for the victim in the case.
"Well, my first thing is I'm just heartbroken for any children that would go through a traumatic experience," Leonard said.