Church Youth Group Leader Abused Girl in Car, Wooded Park and Bedroom, Police Say

By Kevin Lewis
July 16, 2015

A Rockville youth group leader is accused of sexually abusing a young girl he was supposed to educate about God and religion.

In February, Paolo Belarmino, 24, met a 13-year-old girl while leading youth group at River of Life Church in Rockville. The predominantly Filipino congregation is small in size, and therefore rents space from Twinbrook Community Church along Halpine Road.

Police say Belarmino used his position of power and trust to flirt with the teenager. It wasn't long before he began picking her up from Shady Grove Middle School in Derwood following afternoon dismissal. By April, the two were officially dating, and according to court documents, routinely having sexual intercourse.

In attempt to keep their relationship hush-hush, Belarmino would take the middle schooler to secluded places like Rock Creek Regional Park where they'd engage in sexual relations, court documents state. However, in at least three separate cases, Belarmino was bolder, sneaking into the girl's bedroom where he allegedly had sex with her.

In June, the girl's mother discovered salacious text messages and called police. During a sit down interview, the alleged victim told detectives she had consensual sex with Belarmino between eight and 13 times. She also said the church youth group leader would occasionally feel guilty because of the large age gap, and added, he feared getting in "big trouble."

On Thursday, ABC7 News spoke with Belarmino's grandmother outside the family’s Rockville home.

"I don't know about that, I don't know anything," the woman said while standing at the entrance to her front gate.

According to his LinkedIn account, Belarmino has been a volunteer youth group leader at River of Life Church since February 2012. He also works as an IT systems administrator at WAMU 88.5 radio in Washington, D.C.

Calls and emails to River of Life Church went unanswered and unreturned.

Belarmino is charged with sex abuse of a minor, second degree rape, second degree sex offense and third degree sex offense. His next court appearance is scheduled for August 7 at 10 a.m. in Montgomery County District Court.

He faces up to 75 years in prison.








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