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Pastor pleads guilty to sexual assault


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POSTED: Saturday, May 02, 2009

For eight years, starting when she was 12 years old, a girl living on a religious commune in Kaneohe kept silent about the sexual assaults she endured at the hands of her mentor and spiritual leader, Manuel Guillermo Taboada.

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A former windward Oahu minister pleaded guilty to eight counts of second-degree sex assault for sexually abusing a member of his congregation.

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Last year “;the victim told one of her peers, and then they eventually told an adult,”; said Thalia Murphy, deputy city prosecutor.

The adult informed authorities, and an Oahu grand jury charged Taboada, 57, with four counts of first-degree sexual assault and four counts of second-degree sexual assault.

In a plea agreement with the state, Taboada pleaded guilty yesterday to eight counts of second-degree sexual assault for acts spanning the period from April 2001 to April 2007.

“;We worked with the government over months and months to arrive at this, and I think it's fair for both sides,”; said Michael Green, Taboada's lawyer.

Taboada also agreed to accept a 10-year prison sentence and serve at least six years before he is eligible for parole. The Hawaii Paroling Authority can set a higher minimum.

If he had gone to trial and was found guilty as charged, Taboada would have faced up to 120 years in prison.

“;You have to understand how heartbreaking and how heart-wrenching it is for a child like this to have to testify in court. And what if you come out of it with nothing?”; Murphy said.

She said the victim is undergoing therapy.

Green said by pleading guilty, Taboada is taking responsibility for his actions. And if the government wants him to write a letter of apology, he will do it. But the letter will have to go through the government because Circuit Judge Richard Pollack imposed a lifetime no-contact order yesterday.

A Web site that offers podcasts of religious sermons listed recorded messages from Back to the Cross Evangelistic Team hosted by Taboada. He was also the pastor of Great Commission Ministries in Portland, Ore.

Murphy said authorities from Portland are investigating similar sexual assault allegations against Taboada in Oregon.

Green said Oregon authorities interviewed Taboada here, but he has not heard whether he is being charged with any crimes.