This has been updated from the original:
A minister who would later become internationally known did not attempt to hide that he was having sex with a 13-year-old girl while her mother was nearby, according to witnesses at the minister’s trial on Wednesday.
Geronimo Aguilar, 45, is accused of sexually assaulting the girl and her sister in the mid-1990s when they all lived in Fort Worth and Grapevine.
Aguilar left Texas in 2003 for Richmond, Va., where he founded a church and was pastor until he was fired in 2014.
The girls’ mother is in the Tarrant County jail awaiting trial on a charge of sexual assault of a child under 17. The Star-Telegram is not naming the mother because the newspaper typically does not identify sexual assault victims, and to print her name could identify her daughters.
Testifying under the pseudonym April Moore, the older daughter, now 32, testified Tuesday at Aguilar’s trial. She said her mother, 56, is blind, has lupus and has long been a drug addict.
She testified that Aguilar repeatedly sexually assaulted her, most often in 1996 and 1997 when Aguilar and his wife shared residences with the sisters and their parents. Moore said Aguilar apologized to her and cried after he had sex with her younger sister.
“He said it was just once,” Moore said.
On Wednesday, Moore’s sister, testifying under the pseudonym Lake Valley, told the jury that Aguilar played strip poker with the girls.
“We all went to a house in Arlington and had a sleepover with Geronimo,” Valley said. “Our parents knew we were going. April, me and Geronimo played strip poker. I remember being down to my underwear and covering myself with a sheet. I was 11 or 12. I really just wanted to have fun and fit in. I didn’t tell anyone about it.”
While in Fort Worth, Aguilar was affiliated with New Beginnings Church and led a Christian rap group called In for Life, which included young rappers and dancers. In for Life performed concerts at Christian-themed events in the area, according to the testimony of Jason Peña, who joined the group as a teen.
Peña, 35, testified that once when he was 17, he accompanied Aguilar to Moore’s house and spoke to her younger sister while Aguilar and Moore disappeared into another room. Peña said he got bored talking to Moore’s sister and knocked on the door of the room. He said he didn’t wait for an answer but opened the door.
“I saw Geronimo, he was zipping up his pants, and Moore, she was covering herself,” Peña said. “There was a pungent smell, like sex, and she looked embarrassed. The look had to be a little bit between surprise and shame.”
Another witness Wednesday was once a teenage boyfriend of Moore. Now living in San Antonio with a wife and three children, Carl Everett White testified that he did not like Aguilar.
“I tried to provoke a fight with him anytime I saw him,” White said. “I called him a cheater, the molester, a child predator, but he never responded. He just put his head down and walked in the house.”
White said that once when he walked into the residence in the 900 block of Sargent Street, Moore’s mother tried to stop him.
“I went in the house, and her mother was telling me that I needed to go, and Mr. Aguilar was walking out of April's room adjusting his pants, and I say, ‘What the hell is going on here,’” White said. “They got me out of the house.”
In 2014, Aguilar was indicted by a Tarrant County grand jury on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The maximum sentence on the charge is life in prison. The indictment also includes three counts of sexual assault of a child under 17 and three counts of indecency with a child, all second-degree felonies and each with a maximum sentence of 20 years.
The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday in state District Judge Louis Sturns’ court. Prosecutors Eric Nickols and Sheila Wynn are presenting the state’s case. Aguilar is being defended by attorneys Thomas Pavlinic and Heather Barbieri.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752