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Wife indicted as charges build against pastor in sexual abuse case

Updated February 27, 2020 - 4:38 pm

The wife of a Las Vegas pastor was indicted Thursday as prosecutors added to a long list of allegations against the 44-year-old man accused of sexually abusing young girls in his congregation.

Bramwell Bernardo Retana, charged with a total of 55 felony counts, was ordered held on $800,000 bail.

The latest indictment added charges of sexual assault with a minor and use of a minor in producing pornography. Retana also is accused of lewdness with a child younger than 14, first-degree kidnapping and child abuse.

Ana Villalobos-Casares, the wife of the pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Oasis De Paz, was indicted on one count of preventing or dissuading a witness or victim from reporting a crime, also a felony.

The Metropolitan Police Department has said it began investigating Retana last year after a girl told her parents that he had been sexually abusing her for more than a year. He was arrested Dec. 20.

Since then, authorities have identified at least eight alleged victims. District Judge Cristina Silva set Retana’s bail at $100,00 for each of them.

“He was using his position to get these girls and prey on them,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo told the judge. “And all of these girls have been affected.”

Retana’s lawyer, Ryan Helmick, tried to argue for a lower bail.

The allegations range from the pastor leaving pornography up on his church computer for the children to see to kissing girls’ feet and asking girls to spit in his mouth when he was “thirsty,” according to the prosecutor.

In the most recent case, a girl told police that Retana had instructed her to keep quiet after he touched her over her clothes during a youth Christmas event in 2016 at the church, which he and his wife founded at 2020 Michael Way in March 2004.

“He was in a position, not just of authority, but of trust,” DiGiacomo said. “He was their preacher, their pastor, their priest, and he took advantage of all of these parents and all of these kids by using them for his own fetishes and his own games.”

His wife had known about the abuse since at least May, when she learned that Retana had kissed a girl, according to the prosecutor.

Days before her husband’s arrest, she was overheard on the phone with the first girl who came forward, telling her, “Sorry for talking to you that way. I thought you were trying to steal my husband.”

The prosecutor also said that Retana later called his wife from jail, telling her he was ashamed. “She responds that she wants him to take her problems away,” DiGiacomo said.

Retana then allegedly told his wife: “If the scandal gets ugly, then it’s a good idea to leave the country.”

The judge set bail for Villalobos-Casares at $1,500 and ordered electronic monitoring.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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