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Pastor Pleads Guilty for Failing to Report Child Molestation Case

The former pastor of a La Mesa church pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of failing to report to authorities that child molestation was committed by the church school’s principal.

The Rev. Gottfried Hoffman, 65, of La Mesa, will be sentenced Feb. 17 by San Diego Municipal Judge Jesus Rodriguez.

Hoffman was pastor for St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 5150 Wilson St. in La Mesa, for 38 years until his retirement last July.

A felony charge of being an accessory after the fact to the molestation was dismissed.

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Hoffman faces a maximum sentence of six months in County Jail and a $1,000 fine.

Hoffman told the judge he did report the child molestation committed by the principal, Eugene Petersen, 37, of La Mesa, but Deputy Dist. Atty. Aaron Katz said he reported it late.

Katz said the law says people must report knowledge of child molestation immediately.

“He tried to handle it in the church. The authorities have to be notified of this type of criminal offense,” said the prosecutor.

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Petersen was sentenced Jan. 5 by Rodriguez to two years in County Jail. Petersen had pleaded guilty Nov. 14 to three counts of child molestation. Petersen was also put on 10 years probation, ordered to register as a sex offender and fined $1,000.

Hoffman was not accused of participating in the molestation.


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