RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The future of the Richmond Outreach Center (ROC) and its ties to the city of Richmond remain uncertain, now that the ROC’s well known leader has been charged with several felonies relating to the sexual abuse of minors.
Since 2001, Pastor Geronimo Aguilar, known as Pastor G, has been a friend to underprivileged and troubled youth, reaching out to more than 11,000 people weekly through progressive ministries and programs.
Among its services, the ROC church provides religious and bible studies, homeless and prison ministries, addiction programs, family counseling and annual holiday events.
Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones says Aguilar’s dedication over the past decade has undoubtedly made a difference in the community.
“There’s a lot of good the church does in terms of working with young people and working with people who have addictions and people who need to have jobs and so forth,” Jones said.
The success of the ROC and its outreach potential led to a partnership with the city of Richmond, including the Richmond Police Department.
Some city leaders says their constituents are demanding to know how tax dollars were spent at the church.
On Wednesday, Aguilar appeared in Richmond’s Manchester Court to face seven felony charges that stem from alleged sexual encounters with two minors in the 1990’s.
Aguilar is awaiting extradition to Fort Worth, Texas, where the allegations originated.
City Council President Charles Samuels says it’s unclear how much financial support the city has given the ROC since 2001. Samuels says he would like an investigation into the matter.
“There are steps the city can take to investigate and make sure the money was spent appropriately,” Samuels said.
However, Samuels says he doesn’t want to jeopardize the programs that service the community.
Mayor Jones echoed Samuels' sentiments, saying his administration would investigate the city’s financial dealings with the church. However, Jones questioned whether the charges against Aguilar were related to the city’s partnership with the ROC.
“I don’t think the charges have anything to do with money or the programs that the church is involved in with young people,” Jones said. “As a matter of fact, from everything I’ve been told, they do very well with that.”
According to financial records, the ROC has more than $16,000,000 in assets that include a real estate foundation, thrift shop and clothing line.