A Santeria priest has been accused of sexually assaulting a girl during what he claimed were healing rituals, Montebello police said Thursday.
Police are trying to find Pablo Pinto Mata, 46 — known as a "Santero," or priest — who often performed healing rituals at his business, Los Angeles Import, in the 2400 block of Whittier Boulevard in Montebello, police said.
But police said his so-called healing rituals were a ploy used to assault a teenager. Montebello detectives have been chasing Mata since 2013, but he has managed to elude them.
In 2013, Mata performed three healing rituals on a 16-year-old girl, police said. During those incidents, the girl had to disrobe. The third time, Mata forced the girl to disrobe and he sexually assaulted her, police said.
Mata told her the assault was part of a ritual common in Santeria, a faith of the Caribbean.
Police think there may be other victims who were sexually assaulted.
Anyone with details about Mata's whereabouts is asked to call Det. Alfred Martinez at (323) 887-1248.