Last week, an eleven-year-old girl from Frank’s Eddy Village summoned the courage to tell her mother that she was being sexually abused by the pastor of their church, 46-year-old Julio Cesar Garcia. According to the mother, the child spoke of two occasions when Garcia pressured her into having sex. The first time was actually inside the church on October 28th. The second time was at the pastor’s home on November 1st. The mother was devastated by the news. She took the child to a doctor, who confirmed that the child was carnally known. The mother then reported the incident to police and Garcia was arrested and charged with two counts of unlawful carnal knowledge. He appeared in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, November 7th, where the charges were read against him. Due to the nature of the offense, bail was not granted, and he was remanded to the Belize Central Prison until his next court appearance on January 25th, 2013.
For the eleven-year-old, Garcia’s arrest should have been the start of the recovery process. Unfortunately, that is far from the case. Garcia’s arrest caused other victims to come forward. At least two other mothers claimed that their daughters reported sexual advancements by Garcia to them. The scandal made headlines on the local television stations and Garcia was exposed as a “Predator Amongst the Flock”. The church’s parent organization, the Baptist Association, issued a press release disassociating itself from Garcia, claiming that he had never been a Baptist pastor. Those familiar with the Baptist denomination explained that it is common practice to have church leaders, who are not ordained pastors, sothe association’s statement was in no way a disassociation. However, it did act as the final nail in the forearm of the crucified Garcia. He had been jailed, publicly humiliated and labeled as a predator. Some would say deservingly so. Undeservingly though, is that where Garcia’s suffering had come full circle the victim and her family’s suffering was just beginning.
The Guardian spoke to the victim’s mother on Monday, November 12th. She said that since the story was made public, life has been difficult for her family. She said, “I won’t say any names. Some people are just looking at me and some of them are mad saying that this is a lie. The God that I serve, he knows that I am not lying…” The mother said that her family has been receiving more cold shoulders than expressions of support or even sympathy. The incident was not enough to shake her faith in God, and she still attended church this past Sunday. She said that by the way they watched her, she knows they are upset. As hard as it has been for the mother, it is nothing compared to what the child experiences on a daily basis. “They tease her at school,” the mother said as her eyes fill and her voice cracked. She knows that life will never be the same for her daughter and family. They have become like lepers - outcasts in the tiny village they call home. And as the child continues to suffer from pain in her womb, it is the pain in her heart that is unbearable. She suffers greatly because instead of providing a healing environment, her community has chosen to ridicule and scratch the wounds. Instead of moving on from being abused twice, she now has to cope with abuse on a daily basis.
The family is now facing the cost of exposing a community pedophile.