Alabama Church Leader Admits Sexual Abuse

December 6, 2006

Pratville, Ala. -- A church elder has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his niece.

Roberto Soto Colon admitted touching his niece, Teresa Rivera Ward, inappropriately more than 25 years ago causing her emotional pain and Monday's plea almost assures prison time.

64-year-old Colon was an elder in the Prattville congregation of the Jehovah Witnesses at the time the abuse occurred.

A one-year jail sentence is likely. Colon pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in place of a jury trial, where he could have received more than eight years in state prison if found guilty.

Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds accepted the plea and asked Colon to describe what he did to his niece.

Colon barely spoke above a whisper as he described events more than 25 years ago. Reynolds dismissed the jurors after all parties agreed to the terms.

He set sentencing for February 20, during which time, the district attorney will conduct a pre-sentencing investigation of Colon.


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