Wednesday, July 15, 2015

San Gabriel Valley Church Leader Arrested on Sex Allegations

A youth leader at a Rowland Heights church (Yanhao Ren aka Eric Ren), has been arrested on suspicion of having sex with a minor.  The alleged victim, a thirteen year old girl who attended the church, is believed to have engaged in various sex acts with the 24 year old youth leader over the past year.

Ren is being held on $500,000 bail in the San Bernardino County jail.  Ren has apparently worked as a youth leader for the church since 2006.  Reports indicate that police found Ren and the 13 year old girl parked in a vehicle in a secluded area off Highway 330 near Running Springs.  When confronted by police, the suspect apparently admitted to having a sexual relationship with the victim.  Given this confession, I suspect that the criminal prosecution of Ren for various charges including sodomy and oral copulation with a child under the age of 14 (a sex crime with enhanced penalties under the California Penal Code) will move forward and will probably result in a conviction.

Under California Penal Code section 288, a conviction for such lewd and lascivious acts with minors subjects the defendant to a felony with potential prison terms of three to eight years.  It also requires the defendant to register as a sex offender for life.

If these allegations are true, it is extremely unfortunate that a religious leader would use his influence over minors to conduct such heinous crimes.  If it can be shown that Ren's employer (the Evangelical Formosan Church of Rowland Heights) knew or should have known that this type of conduct was taking place, it may also subject them to a civil claim for money damages by the victim.