RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Pastor Geronimo Aguilar built a small house of worship into a mega church known as the Richmond Outreach Center or the ROC. His church has been recognized by Virginia politicians and multiple Richmond police chiefs for making a difference.
But in May, Aguilar stepped down amid controversy. He was arrested and charged in Texas with committing sex crimes against two girls in the mid-1990s. He is out on bond now, facing seven charges in Fort Worth, Texas.
For the first time since his arrest, Aguilar, agreed to sit down with CBS 6 reporter Sandra Jones to answer questions about the crimes he is accused of committing.
“Did you do what these girls accused you of doing?" Jones asked Aguilar.
FULL INTERVIEW WITH AGUILAR HERE:
“There’s obviously going to be some people that judge you from the 30 minutes that they see you on television or what they hear in the news,” he said. “But the people that really matter, the people that I want to love me and believe the best. Those are the ones I focus on.”
Aguilar maintains his innocence, surprised over the allegations.
Last Tuesday a Texas judge lifted the gag order in the case, allowing Aguilar to break his silence.
“What do you say to the people who have already decided that you are guilty?” Jones asked.
“Well, you know, it’s a shame. I wish people would wait until they hear all of the facts--all of the information. It would be wonderful if people would wait until the end to find out that this isn’t true,” he replied.
Aguilar was limited in what he could tell us because he says it would jeopardize the case, but his attorney David Carlson provided us with more details.
"Why are these allegations coming up now, with charges 17 years later?" asked Jones.
"We don't know the answer to that," Carlson's attorney said. "We`re being told CPS records from that far back don`t exist for any case that`s unfounded. However, if the case manner had been founded in anyway, there would be records."
Carlson said Fort Worth investigators looked into this case in the 90s, but never sought charges against Aguilar. But he says the problem his defense team faces now is a lack of documentation from that time period.
"I believe that once we get fairly into this process that we’ll be talking about how we can go about, trying to reconstruct the case,” said Carlson. If we don`t have a paper trail, how can we go about working together to reconstruct the investigation that cleared Pastor G back in 1996, 97?"
“What’s the toughest part of dealing with this?” Jones asked Aguilar.
“Probably seeing my family suffer,” he replied. “ I can’t think of anything that quite compares to seeing my wife and children have to struggle with things being said and the obvious change in our lifestyle as far as having to deal with something so devastating to ourselves and to our church.
“What do you say to them?” Jones asked.
“I just let them know, hey, we have to believe in God. And keep our faith in the Lord and believe that everything is going to be wonderful,” he replied.
Not a day goes by that Aguilar says he doesn’t get an email or phone call supporting him, including many from the Richmond mega church he created.
“What is it like to walk away from something that you built from the ground up?” Jones asked.
“It’s very difficult walking away from the church,” he said. “But I love the church and I want what’s best for our church. I felt like this was best for the church.”
Aguilar admits this experience has tested his own faith.
“It’s made me lean on God more than ever. Obviously, I’ve never been through anything, any trial quite at this level before in my own personal life,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar would not comment on why his brother and two other pastors resigned from the ROC shortly after he left. But he said his vision will continue.
“I believe in the leadership of the ROC that they will make the right decision and they will find people or several people to come in and do a great job,” he said.
Soon, Aguilar will have to leave his home granted to him by the church, a $600,000 parsonage in Westover Hills. Still, he understands the church’s need to move forward.
“Where will you go?” Jones asked.
“ I’m not sure yet. Haven’t gotten that far. Honestly, it’s day by day right now,” he said.
What is clear for the embattled pastor, is that he’ll lean on his faith to help him through this tough time.
“Have you prepared yourself, if you are found guilty of these charges?“ Jones asked.
“I believe that I am not going to be found guilty. I believe that I’m going to be able to move on from all of this and life is going to be wonderful. So, to be honest with you, I haven’t even thought about that one time,” he said.
Would he go back to the ROC if he was found not guilty?
“To be honest with you my mind is not even that far as to what I’m going to do in the future. Once this is all over and put behind me. I that I am going to serve God for the rest of my life. That’s what I’ve been called to do and that’s what I’ve been doing for 25 plus years now,” he said.