|Hawaii Pastor Accused of Molesting Girl for Years
By Mary Vorsino
July 23, 2008
Victim, a member of his ministry, was 12 when alleged abuse began
An O'ahu grand jury indicted a Kane'ohe pastor yesterday on charges of sexually molesting a member of his ministry over an eight-year period, starting when she was 12.
Manuel Guillermo Taboada, 56, also known as "Memo," was charged with seven counts of first- and second-degree sexual assault for allegedly molesting a member of a family that belonged to his ministry. The victim told police she and her family lived with Taboada in a Kane'ohe home, according to court filings.
Taboada was arrested Monday at Honolulu International Airport and is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
Authorities said yesterday they also are working with police in Portland, Ore., where Taboada is said to be facing similar allegations. However, officials declined to say how many other alleged victims, if any, are involved, saying they are still investigating.
A woman who answered a telephone yesterday for Taboada's ministry, called "Back to the Cross," declined comment. But other members of the religious community who knew Taboada expressed shock.
"It's a thunderbolt," said Alex McAngus, chaplain for Waikiki Chaplaincy ministry, where Taboada and six other members of his Back to the Cross ministry regularly volunteered to lead services and perform other duties since late 2003.
"It's just beyond anything I could have imagined. You just don't expect to hear something like this about someone who you've been providing venues" to preach.
McAngus said that he never suspected anything criminal was going on in Taboada's ministry. But he said he did once ask Taboada about his "communal living" situation, and told him others would likely question it.
Taboada lived with his wife and several ministry members in a large home in Kane'ohe. He also has five sons, but it's unclear if they also lived there.
That home is up for sale, and several members of the Back to the Cross ministry have reportedly left the state in the wake of the allegations against Taboada.
It's unclear how many followers Taboada had in the Islands.
In addition to his Kane'ohe ministry, he apparently had followers in Oregon and Arizona. McAngus said Taboada regularly made trips to Oregon.
According to Back to the Cross' Web site, Taboada is originally from Peru and pursued Bible studies after running a successful business. Recordings of his sermons are on his Web site and on other religious Web sites.
Taboada also had a show on 'Olelo public access television.
In court yesterday, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Vickie Kapp said Taboada warned the alleged victim in the molestation case that his "ministry would fall apart" if she told anyone what he was doing to her.
According to court documents, the molestation started in March 1999, when the victim moved into Taboada's Kane'ohe home.
It ended in April 2007, when the victim was 20.
She is now 21, and described the assaults in a July 16 interview with the Children's Justice Center, police with the sex crimes detail said in court documents.
McAngus said Taboada and members of his ministry stopped volunteering at the Waikiki Chaplaincy in late June, saying they were moving on to other opportunities.
McAngus added he hasn't talked to Taboada since, and when McAngus stopped at the Back to the Cross home last week to get equipment he had stored there, he was told Taboada was in Oregon. McAngus learned of the molestation case yesterday from other members of the religious community, he said.
Staff writers Jim Dooley and Rod Ohira contributed to this report.
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