Thursday, November 24, 2005


Pastor arrested in sex abuse case dies in fall at national park

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - A Porterville minister accused of sexually abusing two teenage parishioners fell 400 feet to his death at Moro Rock, a National Park Service official said Monday.

The Rev. Santos Teixeira's fall Sunday was under "uncertain circumstances," requiring the Park Service to notify the FBI of its investigation, said Alexandra Picavet, a Sequoia National Park spokeswoman.

Picavet said park investigators have yet to determine the manner of death and cautioned it was standard procedure to notify the FBI about the case, which occurred on federal land.

Teixeira, 56, fell to his death late Sunday afternoon from the summit of Moro Rock, a 6,500-foot-tall granite dome. Picavet said a person believed to be a parishioner and other bystanders were in the area, adding those eyewitnesses have been interviewed.

Teixeira's family has asked the Park Service to look into the pastor's death, Picavet said. A telephone number for the family could not be located.

Teixeira, who was the pastor of Iglesia Del Nazareno church in Porterville, was ordered last August to stand trial on charges of rape and sexual assault. The allegations involve two teenage sisters who attended his church.

Prosecutors said Teixeira befriended the girls and their mother shortly after the family moved to the area from Mexico.

Teixeira's lawyer has said there was no physical evidence of a crime and the girls' statements were vague and inconsistent.

Teixeira would have faced 45 years to life in prison if convicted.

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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