Madera County minister accused of molestation in court

MADERA COUNTY, Calif.

Cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom for Friday's hearing. But behind these doors, two Madera County deputies delivered gut wrenching testimony about five girls who have all accused Alberto Rodriguez of sexual abuse.

According to authorities, the victims in this case say the abuse happened when they were as young as nine years old. Three of them were foster children in Rodriguez's Madera County home. Two of them were neighbors who often visited the house. One of the girls told investigators Rodriguez first touched her inappropriately inside the Valley West Christian Center where he worked as a children's minister.

In each of the cases, the girls described trusting Rodriguez like a father and being assaulted while doing innocent things like watching cartoons or playing video games.

Michael Keitz said, "Whenever you see someone, especially in a trusted position in a case such as this and you've got victims who come forward and allege conduct of one sort or another that's inappropriate you know your heart just goes out to these people."

The defense attorney in the case did not want to speak on camera, but he told Action News his client is not guilty. However, the judge ruled there is enough evidence to send Rodriguez to trial. Prosecutors say they plan to request consolidating this case with that of a sixth alleged victim.

The judge also nearly doubled the bail for Rodriguez to one million dollars. He's scheduled to be back in court in two weeks.

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