SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake man has been charged with sexually abusing two young girls in his church congregation, five years apart.
Pablo Alvarez, 48, is charged with object rape and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, all first-degree felonies.
Alvarez, who attends the Iglesias Cristiana Dios Proveerá congregation, is accused of abusing a girl in 2014 and abusing another girl in June. The Spanish-speaking congregation rents the basement of the church at 662 E. 1300 South to hold services, but is not associated with the church that owns the building.
One of the girls, who was 9 years old in 2014, said Alvarez attended the same congregation as her parents.
“Alvarez would ask her if she wanted to go play with toys in the toy room,” according to charging documents.
The toy room was in the basement of the church. Once there, Alvarez would keep the lights off and sexually assault the girl, the charges state. When he was done, “he would give (the girl) money and tell her not to tell anyone because they wouldn't believe her.”
The assaults happened more than once, according to the charges.
On June 24, another girl, age 4, went to the church basement while her family was there for a church function. The girl’s mother told police that “during the evening Spanish speaking service there is no supervision down in the basement. (She) said an adult will randomly go down to check on the children,” according to a search warrant affidavit filed in 3rd District Court.
Alvarez, who was one of the adults who said he would check on the children, sexually assaulted the girl, the charges say.
When the girl and her mother got home, the girl told her what had happened and that “she told the man ‘no’ but he kept saying ‘yes,’” according to the warrant.
The pastor of the Iglasias Cristiana Dios Proveerá congregation was notified of the allegations and confronted Alvarez who denied touching the girl, investigators wrote in the affidavit. The family took the girl to Primary Children’s Hospital for a sexual assault exam and Salt Lake police were notified.
Not long after, the detective assigned to the second girl’s case learned that another detective was working a case that “had very similar circumstances and likely the same suspect,” according to the warrant. That girl was the victim from the 2014 case, according to police.
She told police that Alvarez also sexually assaulted her during a church outing at a lake, the affidavit states. “She said Pablo stopped sexually abusing her when she started sixth grade.”
Bail for Alvarez was set at $750,000. A scheduling conference in 3rd District Court is set for Jan. 21.
Clarification: Alvarez is a member of the Iglesias Cristiana Dios Proveerá, which rents the basement of the church building to hold its services. The church that owns the building and its pastor are not associated with Iglesias Cristiana Dios Proveerá.