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CANADA: Toronto pastor accused of taking sexual advantage of young women

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Artelino Vallada is accused of sexually assaulting four girls and women, between the ages of 14 and 21. (Toronto Police handout)TORONTO - A Toronto pastor accused of using his position as a religious leader to take sexual advantage of numerous female members of his congregation — one of whom is barely a teenager — will remain behind bars for the weekend.

Facing eight charges for sexual assault and other offences, Artelino Vallada, 36, stared sullenly at the floor of the prisoner’s box when he appeared in a Scarborough courtroom Friday with half a dozen or so members of the Jesus Christ the Open Door Church on hand for support.

The preacher appeared to be moments away from being granted bail but a last-minute snag prompted the judge to put the hearing on hold until next week.

Four young women and teenage girls came forward recently with accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour involving their pastor, Toronto Police Const. Tony Vella said.

The alleged victims, who range in age from 14 to 21, claim they were molested on numerous occasions between November 2010 and January 2013.

“We are concerned about the possibility there may be more victims,” Vella said.

Jesus Christ the Open Door Church — with only about 80 people in the congregation — is currently located in an industrial building near Black Creek and Trethewey Drs.

It has been a registered charity since December 2007, collecting more than $55,000 a year in donations.

An online description states the church holds weekly services for “prayer and worship” and also provides “religious education and instruction for all ages.”

Vallada, who is from the Philippines, has been a pastor at the church since it opened six years ago.

He surrendered to police Thursday and was taken into custody.

The father of four is charged with four counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference and two counts of invitation to sexual touching.

John McMillan, a founder of the church and president of its board of directors, was among Vallada’s supporters in court Friday and had planned to bail the pastor out.

But the Crown had concerns about McMillan acting as a surety when it became evident he may not be able to come up with the $10,000 needed to post bail.

Vallada’s bail hearing resumes Monday and it’s expected he will be released under strict conditions that prevent him from preaching or having contact with the alleged victims and any other member of the congregation.

Meanwhile, investigators have released a photo of the accused and are appealing to past or current members of the church to come forward if they believe they have been victimized.

Anyone with information regarding this case should call the sex crimes unit at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/03/15/toronto-pastor-artelino-vallada-faces-sex-charges