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Teen victim in sexual exploitation case says suspect was pastor of her church

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Posted at 5:04 PM, Oct 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-03 09:58:23-04

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah – Police have arrested a man who allegedly sexually exploited a minor who said he is the pastor of her church.

Police stated they were contacted Wednesday by the parents of a 15-year-old girl, and the parents said their daughter had been exchanging messages of a sexual nature with a 66-year-old male.

The suspect was identified by police as 66-year-old Leonel Rocha-Preda of Salem, Oregon.

The victim told police the man was the pastor of her church and that she had been exchanging emails with him since July, according to a press release from South Salt Lake Police Department. The man came to Salt Lake City in mid-September to establish a new church in the Salt Lake City area, and he was invited to stay at the victim’s house at that time.

The release states that while he was in Salt Lake the man grabbed the victim’s breasts and groin on two separate occasions. The alleged touching occurred at the victim’s home and at a local mall.

The suspect also purchased a cellular phone for the teen but told her to keep it a secret from her parents. The phone was used to, “exchange sexually graphic text messages and nude photos of the suspect and victim.”

The release states police interviewed the suspect and that he denied touching the victim.

The man was taken into custody and was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, one count of enticing a minor over the internet and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Police said it is possible there are additional, unknown victims out there. Authorities ask anyone with information about this incident or possible additional incidents to call police at 801-840-4000.