Former Columbia pastor gets 14 years for sexual abuse

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:12 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

A former Columbia pastor was sentenced to 14 years in prison Monday in connection with the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl.

Roberto Edgar Lopez, 37, pleaded guilty to second-degree statutory sodomy and second-degree statutory rape, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Nicole Gorovsky said. Judge Gene Hamilton sentenced Lopez to two consecutive seven-year sentences.

A jury trial had been scheduled for Tuesday morning, but attorneys were able to come to a plea agreement, Gorovsky said. According to Casenet, Lopez faced two sexual abuse charges and an additional charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

Gorovsky said the charge of endangering the welfare of a child was dropped as part of the agreement.

“In these cases with a child victim, there’s always a balancing act between protecting the victim and doling out justice for the defendant,” Gorovsky said. “Somewhere in that balancing act, were were able to agree.”

Lopez, originally from Mexico City, helped establish Horeb Iglesia Metodista Unida Hispana, the Hispanic United Methodist Church, which offered Spanish religious services in Columbia, according to a profile of Lopez published in Adelante.

Columbia Police said in a probable cause statement that Lopez had a sexual relationship with a girl who attended the church that Lopez helped establish.

Lopez was removed from his pastoral duties immediately after the church learned of the charges last summer, according to a statement released by the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church. “The United Methodist Church does not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind,” the statement said. “Sexual misconduct is a violation of the sacred trust held by clergy and counter to the mission and ministry of the Church. Providing a safe environment for everyone in our churches and their ministries is our highest priority.”

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.