Preliminary Hearing for Hanford Priest June 4
By Kerri Ginis
May 1, 2002
A preliminary hearing for a Hanford priest accused of raping a 16-year-old girl who worked at his church will be held June 4.
At the hearing, a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to order the Rev. Miguel Flores to stand trial.
Flores, a Roman Catholic priest at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, faces three counts of forcible rape. He also faces charges of witness intimidation, criminal threats and dissuading a witness.
If convicted of all charges, Flores could spend up to 26 years behind bars.
Flores' attorney, Richard Conway, said his client is innocent.
"It's difficult to have things said against you that are untrue," Conway said following a Tuesday court hearing. "But he has faith, and he knows the truth will come out."
Kings County Deputy District Attorney Anna Ferguson said Tuesday that she intends to file alternative charges of statutory rape against Flores. If the case goes to trial, the jury can either acquit Flores or find him guilty of rape or statutory rape.
Flores, 34, was arrested March 9. He is free on bail and on leave from his parish duties.
Flores allegedly raped the girl at his church residence Feb. 16. The Kings County District Attorney's Office alleges that two other rapes happened Jan. 2 and Feb. 9.
Flores allegedly bought a car for the girl, who lives in San Joaquin and attends Tranquillity High School, said Patrick Hart, chief deputy district attorney. The girl has not been identified because of her age and the nature of the charges.
The girl reportedly started working for Flores in mid-January at his former parish, St. Paul Church in Tranquillity. She continued to assist Flores for two weeks after he transferred to the Hanford church this year.
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