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Catholic Deacon Sentenced in Sex Case

Abuse: South El Monte church leader is given one-year term for activities with two boys.

June 28, 2002|RICHARD WINTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Catholic deacon who worked at a South El Monte church was sentenced to a year in Los Angeles County Jail and given a 44-month suspended state prison term Thursday for providing pornographic material to two boys and sexually battering one of them.

Arturo Ahumada, a deacon at Epiphany Catholic Church, was also placed on felony probation for five years by Pomona Court Commissioner Wade Olson.

"He will be registered as a sex offender. That will ensure wherever he goes, people in the neighborhood will know he is a danger to children," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Habib Balian.

"He used his position with the church to take advantage of those most vulnerable in society: children."

Ahumada, 46, pleaded no contest March 4 to two felony counts of providing illicit materials to minors and one count of misdemeanor sexual battery on a boy. He has been suspended from his church duties since his arrest last year.

Balian said Ahumada invited two boys, ages 15 and 16, to his home several times for dinner between March 1 and March 31 last year. He showed them a pornographic videotape, the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors had requested a state prison sentence for the deacon. Olson, however, noting Ahumada's lack of prior offenses, said a year in County Jail and a requirement that he attend special therapy for abusive behavior was appropriate.

Before sentencing, one boy's mother and father addressed Ahumada and the court, expressing disgust with the deacon's betrayal of their trust, according to the prosecutor.

Det. Albert Maldonado of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Family Crimes Unit said Ahumada used his position with the church to befriend the boys.

Maldonado, who investigated the case, said one of the boys told a high school guidance counselor, who then reported the sexual abuse to the Sheriff's Department. Sheriff's detectives arrested Ahumada last July.

Ahumada was taken into custody May 24 at a hearing in which sentencing was postponed. Since June 11 he has been assigned to the jail hospital because of unspecified medical problems.

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