Ex-pastor gets 6 years for sexually assaulting woman during prayer

Jorge Juan Castro
Jorge Juan Castro was sentenced to six years in prison for assaulting a congregant during a counseling session.
(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

A former Norwalk pastor was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison for sexually assaulting a female congregant while praying for her during a counseling session, prosecutors said.

Jorge Castro, 55, was sentenced after pleading no contest to one felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object. Castro must also register as a sex offender for life, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

The assault occurred in April 2010, when the woman went to Castro, pastor at Las Buenas Nuevas Church, for spiritual counseling.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who arrested Castro last year at his Norwalk home, previously alleged the former pastor targeted women at the church who were in the country illegally and spoke only Spanish, assaulting them at the church or during home visits.

Castro allegedly told the women the sex acts were part of a faith-healing process.

Sheriff’s officials say the incidents date to Castro’s arrival in Los Angeles from Argentina in 2004. Soon after his arrest, detectives said they believed there were many more victims -- most of whom fear deportation and so were reluctant to come forward.