LONG BEACH (CA)
KGO-TV, ABC-7 [San Francisco CA]
September 15, 2023
By Sid Garcia
A Long Beach-based priest on Thursday was charged in Ventura County with possession of child pornography, prosecutors said.
Rodolfo Martinez-Guevara, 38, was arrested Wednesday in Long Beach, according to the Ventura County district attorney’s office. He is accused of possessing “over 600 images of child sexual abuse material, including images and videos of prepubescent minors under the age of 12.”
“As a priest, the defendant is in a position of tremendous power, authority and trust. The alleged crimes deeply violate that trust and involve a disturbing number of sexual images of young boys,” District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said in a statement. “These are not simply images and videos. Rather, if found true, they constitute horrific exploitation of our most vulnerable, and the actions of the defendant must be met by the full force of the law.”
Prosecutors said Martinez-Guevara was living at the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in Long Beach, adjacent to St. Maria Goretti Church and St. Maria Goretti Catholic School. Through the Missionaries, he was said to have ties to a number of churches, including Our Lady of Guadalupe in Oxnard.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Martinez-Guevara is not a priest with the archdiocese but is affiliated with the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit Religious Order.
“He was at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Oxnard from July 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022, as a transitional deacon and newly ordained priest,” according to the archdiocese. “Since then, he has been in residence with the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in Long Beach with faculties to minister in the archdiocese. He has been removed from ministry by the archdiocese and his order.
“The archdiocese stands against any sexual misconduct and is resolute in our support for victim-survivors of any misconduct. We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to ensuring that parishes, schools and ministries are safe places for everyone in our community.”
According to prosecutors, an investigation into Martinez-Guevara began after “several reports” were made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Investigators determined that he was believed to be in possession of large numbers of photos and videos of child sexual abuse material, most involving boys, the district attorney’s office said.
He was arrested by members of the Ventura County Child Exploitation & Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes the Ventura and San Bernardino County sheriff’s departments, Ventura County district attorney’s office, Ventura and Oxnard police departments, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Martinez-Guevara’s bail was set at $750,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Ventura County Superior Court.
City News Service contributed to this report.