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  Teen Girl Admits Calling Priest Alleged Rape Victim Testifies She Phoned for Family Help

By Kerri Ginis
Fresno Bee
August 21, 2002

A 17-year-old girl admitted under cross-examination Tuesday that, after she allegedly was raped by a Hanford priest, she called him at least once a day for several weeks on a cellular phone he bought her.

The teenager recounted how she called the Rev. Miguel Flores from a furniture store in Kerman in February, within days of the alleged rape, to ask him whether he would help her family purchase three new sofas for their home. The girl also described how she accompanied him on trips to Sequoia National Park and Disneyland several days after he raped her and threatened to hurt her family if she told anyone what happened.

The girl's testimony concluded the second day of the trial for Flores, 34, who is charged with three counts of forcible rape, three counts of statutory rape, dissuading a witness and criminal threat charges. If convicted, he could spend up to 27 years in prison.

Flores has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Rick Conway, claims the girl and her family fabricated the rape allegations to extort money from the priest. Prosecutors contend Flores "betrayed a position of trust" when he raped the teenager once in January at a church in Tranquillity and twice in February at a church in Hanford.

During cross-examination Tuesday, Conway asked the 17-year-old whether she told her sister-in-law she could get $1 million from Flores because she accused him of rape.

The teenager denied making the statement: "I never said I was going to sue anybody. I don't even have a lawyer to sue."

Conway also questioned why she continued to call Flores and take trips with him after testifying that she was afraid of him.

"He would tell me to call him, so I would call him sometimes," the 17-year-old testified. "I wouldn't call him more than one or two times a day."

Flores, who is free on bond, has been a Roman Catholic priest for the past seven years. He served at the St. Paul Church in Tranquillity before taking over the parish duties at Hanford's Immaculate Heart of Mary Church this year. Flores was placed on leave by the Diocese of Fresno after his arrest in March.

The girl, who was 16 at the time of the alleged attacks, worked as an office assistant for the priest. She testified Monday that Flores raped her in his residence at churches in Hanford and Tranquillity.

She said that after the rapes, he threatened to hurt her younger sisters or her family if she reported what happened.

In court Tuesday, the teenager described how Flores took her to the San Miguel Mission near Paso Robles in February, within days of raping her for a third time. She testified that Flores made her kneel down in front of an altar and swear that she wouldn't tell anyone about the rapes.

"I said fine and I knelt down, but I didn't swear. I acted like I was praying, but I wasn't really praying," the 17-year-old said.

Under questioning by prosecutor Anna Ferguson, she told jurors that Flores also bought her a gray 2002 Ford Mustang with tinted windows. On the back window of the car was a sticker that read, "My Queen."

She testified that Flores drove a pickup bearing a sticker with her name. The girl's name is not being revealed because of her age and the nature of the charges.

Testimony will continue today in Kings County Superior Court.

 
 

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