Santa Ana Church Leader Arrested on Suspicion of Molesting 2 Girls

A Santa Ana church youth leader was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of molesting two girls he met through the church, police said.

Jesse Francisco Hernandez Perez, 22, was arrested at his Anaheim home and was being held on $100,000 bail, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.

Perez is a youth leader at the Iglesia De Restauracion church at 1621 E. 17th St., Bertagna said.

An 11-year-old girl came forward March 5 to allege that the suspect lured her during church services into a restroom and sexually assaulted her, Bertagna said. She did not immediately report the alleged encounter and continued attending services with her family, Bertagna said.

A 14-year-old girl told police last month she was molested in his home, “where he was leading a youth program from his home,” Bertagna said.

“The nexus is the church,” he said. “It’s where he meets his victims. That’s why we believe there may be other victims out there.”

Anyone who may have information helpful to investigators was asked to call Detective Cpl. Johanna Perez at (714) 245-8351, or email jperez5@santa-ana.org. Orange County Crime Stoppers accepts anonymous tips at (855) TIP-OCCS.

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