A former pastor in Arizona got 13 years in prison after being convicted in a case in which he was accused of sexually abusing several underage girls and impregnating one who was just 13 or 14 years old.
Jose Vicente Morales, a 51-year-old man, pleaded guilty to molestation of a child, sex abuse, and three counts of attempted molestation of a child. He knew some of his underage victims from church, according to local reports.
According to court documents, the investigation started when a 17-year-old girl told her mother she was harming herself because of the sexual abuse by Morales when she was 12-year-old.
Another victim said she was sexually abused from when she was 7 years old to when she was 12 years old. Court documents said she recalled being molested by Morales when she was sleeping over at his house and then another time while she was swimming in his pool.
Court documents said Morales was also accused of impregnating a girl when she was 13 or 14 years old. He reportedly met her when she was 8 years old and got “married” when she was 10 years old.
Another victim said she was 10 or 11 years old when she was abused.
An 18-year-old victim said Morales lured her to his house and touched her inappropriately. Court documents said in another incident, Morales went to the victim’s house and sexually assaulted her.
Credible allegations. Pregnancies. A child “bride.” A guilty plea.
All that, and yet the abuser is only getting a maximum of 13 years in prison, in part because he has already served two years after a prior arrest.
Morales will get credit for the two years he has served since being arrested in 2016. He was arrested in September of 2016 while a pastor at Iglesia Cristiana Impacto de Fe near 43rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road.
Another reason for the relatively light sentence appears to be that Morales never verbally admitted to certain felony crimes (despite pleading guilty to related charges).
Morales admitted to the sexual relationship with the 18-year-old girl but he denied everything else. He claims the girl he married was 15 years old, not 10.
Marrying a 15-year-old girl doesn’t make all this more acceptable. Morales somehow got away with securing a plea deal on the least serious charges, while skating by on the others. I hope more people come forward and that 13-year sentence is significantly extended.