Alexandra Cantu of Houston had just finished up a bible study group in an unfamiliar neighborhood when she asked her pastor if she could follow his car back to their church in order to find her way home.
Everything seemed to be going well enough, as they drove along, when suddenly Pastor Isaac Sauceda of the Divine Restoration Apostolic Church steered into a city park near Hobby Airport, where he convinced Cantu to step inside his car to give the recently separated woman marital advice.
That's when, according to a lawsuit recently filed in Harris County District Court, things allegedly took a less than heavenly turn.
Cantu claims that Sauceda drove his truck into a secluded area of the park and, after talking for a few minutes about her problems, began asking inappropriate questions such as how long it had been since she and her husband had sex. Sauceda then began touching Cantu's leg, she claims, before sticking his finger inside her vagina without her consent. Cantu goes on to claim that Sauceda then exposed his member and began fondling himself, before grabbing the back of her head and forcing her mouth onto his crotch, saying, "Come on you will like it."
Cantu says that she repeatedly told her pastor "No," and that eventually he drove her back to her car with orders not to tell anyone what had happened.
"What you've got is a religious figure who used his position of trust to take advantage of one of the members of his church," Cantu's attorney, Edward Sillas, tells Hair Balls. "I think it will be brought out that this was not the first problem that he had with members of his church. I think it will come out in due time that the members of the [church] board were aware that he had had other situations involving similar behavior and yet they allowed him to continue to function in the same position. Once the snowball starts coming down the mountain, a lot of people want to get on board and the snowball always gets bigger."
The alleged incident took place in January 2008 and Cantu waited until April to file a police report. A grand jury indicted Sauceda at the end of April with felony sexual assault, but court records show the case was dismissed in August. The dismissal order does not cite a reason.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"We have yet to figure out why the charges were dismissed," says Sillas. "I think the fact that there was a substantial amount of time that went by before she ultimately came forward, which is common in these types of cases, was an important factor and there was no medical evidence because she waited so long."
Cantu is suing the church for negligent hiring and supervision of an employee and Sauceda for assault and infliction of emotional distress. Sillas thinks the case will settle before it gets to trial.
"It would behoove the church and [Sauceda] to resolve this," he says, "because there's too much by way of phone records and paper documentation that clearly substantiates her position."
Hair Balls tried to contact Sauceda several times through the church, but no one answered the phone and there was no message machine. Sillas says the lawsuit has not yet been served and he does not know who the defense attorneys will be.