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Leader of religious group arrested on Costa del Sol for allegedly abusing several followers for 25 years
 

Leader of religious group arrested on Costa del Sol for allegedly abusing several followers for 25 years

National Police officers have detained a 61-year-old man in Estepona and have so far identified two victims, one of whom was a minor when the alleged abuse began

Juan Cano

Malaga

Tuesday, 4 June 2024, 12:18

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National Police on the Costa del Sol have arrested a 61-year-old man in Estepona over an alleged continuous crime of sexual assault. The arrested man, who has been remanded in custody, was the president of a religious and Catholic civil association and is accused of sexually abusing several of his followers over the past 25 years.

The investigation was launched following the complaint of one of the victims for an alleged crime of sexual aggression. According to the victim, the perpetrator stated that his psychologist had advised him to explore and satisfy his curiosity in order to overcome the attraction he felt towards men. To do so, he allegedly subjected the victim, by means of coercion and/or intimidation, so he would give in to the pressure he exerted with the sole purpose of ceasing to resist any sexual act he proposed to him, according to investigators.

Police then identified the alleged perpetrator, who was the president of a religious association. Most of his followers were foreigners and had been recruited in countries with turbulent socio-political situations. He reportedly used social media to contact his followers. In this first contact, he asked for opinions and selected believers from other countries to offer them a "European future". He used their responses to obtain information about the vulnerability of potential victims to whom he offered "emotional and spiritual support", according to police.

So far, two victims have been located and offered to move to a European country in search of a better future. Once in Spain, the victims, kept in the detainee's house, "were emotionally and psychologically manipulated" and threatened so that, feeling trapped, they would allow the aggressor to carry out his "illicit actions", according to investigators.

One of the victims was allegedly assaulted up to three times between 2018 and the summer of 2022. The other victim was assaulted in 1999 when they were still a minor at just 16 years old - the abuse continued until the victim turned 18. Police do not rule out that there may be more victims.

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