Faith

Cops: ‘Priest’ Sexually Assaulted Teen

Part of 'healing' process

A “priest” who performed healing rituals at his Los Angeles business has been accused of raping an under-aged girl.

Police are searching for Pablo Pinto Mata, 46 — known as a “Santero,” or priest — who performed the rituals at Los Angeles Import in Montebello. Three times in 2013, Mata performed the rituals on a 16-year-old girl.

During those incidents, he ordered the girl undress. The third time, Mata sexually assaulted her, police said. He told her the sexual contact was part of a ritual common in Santeria, a faith of the Caribbean.

Santeria merges the Yaruba religion, which stresses pre-destination, with Christianity and Native American traditions. There are several rituals necessary to cleanse a soul, according to the religion.

Montebello detectives have been chasing Mata since 2013, but he has managed to elude them. So police have begun to publicize their search for him because they think there may be other victims who were sexually assaulted.

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