Trial Ordered for Hanford Priest Teen Accuses Him of Raping Her on Church Property in Tranquillity, Hanford

By Cindy Carcamo
Fresno Bee
June 5, 2002

A priest accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in his parish will stand trial, a Kings County judge ruled Tuesday.

Miguel Flores, 34, is charged with three counts of forcible rape and dissuading a witness. If convicted of all charges, the priest could spend up to 26 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Flores raped the girl in January at the St. Paul Church in Tranquillity and twice more in February at Hanford's Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

The teen-age girl reportedly started work Jan. 21 as Flores' assistant at the Tranquillity church.

Hanford police investigator Bruce Blodgett told the court Tuesday that the girl told him in an interview that Flores raped her Feb. 16 in a separate building, near the main sanctuary in Hanford.

"She was finishing with bookkeeping when Flores came up behind her and rubbed her neck," Blodgett said.

"She protested the rubbing. He grabbed her and pushed her into the bedroom quarter in the church residence."

Blodgett said the girl asked Flores "Why are you doing this to me?" and told him to stop. Flores reportedly told the teen-age girl he had fallen in love with her and then raped her. "You'll regret this," Blodgett said the girl told Flores.

He said the girl told him Flores threatened her, saying she would regret it if she told anybody what had happened.

Fear prevented the girl from telling anyone about the alleged rapes, Blodgett said.

Flores' attorney, Richard Conway, questioned the girl's credibility.

He noted she failed to tell Blodgett during the first interview about two other alleged rapes -- one at the Tranquillity church Jan. 26 and another at the Hanford church Feb. 9.

Conway also wondered why the girl, if she had been raped, would follow Flores to the Hanford church after his transfer.

Prosecutors said she was blackmailed into staying with Flores.

Blodgett said the girl told him she and Flores took a trip Feb. 18 to Mission San Miguel near Paso Robles, where she said Flores made her swear upon an altar.

"He had told her that she needed to swear to God to not tell what happened between the two of them," he said. "If she didn't, bad things could happen to her and her younger sisters."

Flores also reportedly bought the girl a 2002 Ford Mustang and gave it to her Feb. 23, Blodgett testified.

He added that the sports car had white lettering at the back of the car that read "My Queen."

Blodgett said Flores' red Dodge truck had the girl's name in the same lettering at the back of the vehicle.

Conway pointed out that Blodgett had interviewed Flores in English instead of Spanish, failing to ask Flores if he needed an interpreter. Blodgett acknowledged that Flores asked him once to slow down when speaking during the interview.

Flores, who has been in the United States about two years, listened to the testimony through an interpreter. His lawyer suggested Flores didn't understand Blodgett when questioned about the alleged rapes.

Flores is scheduled to be arraigned June 20 in Kings County Superior Court.


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