Friday, July 13, 2007

1%........ maybe

Modesto Reyes, 53, formerly of Ellsworth St, Hartford is back in the news. He was the pastor of Iglesia De Dios, "Cristo Te Llama" church on Broad St. Hartford CT in May of 2006. At that time, Hartford police began investigating allegations of his assaulting a young girl behind and inside of the church.

On May 22 2006, Hartford police responded to complaint that a juvenile sexual assault had occurred several times inside the church. Detective Cheryl Gogins confirmed that a female victim at full term pregnancy had delivered a child on May 24 and with DNA evidence and the cooperation of the then twelve year-old victim, Modesto was identified as the biological father.

Hartford Police arrested Reyes without incident at his Hartford home on June 21 2006. He was charged with four counts of Sexual Assault in the First Degree, four counts of Sexual Assault in the Second Degree and four counts of Risk of Injury to a Minor. He remained in jail on a bond of $750,000.

The prosecution alleges that Reyes assaulted the now 13 year-old girl between August and September of 2005 in a van behind the church and within the church sha and her family attended. The girl had a baby boy in 2006 and DNA tests done by the state then showed that there was a 99% chance that Reyes was the biological father.

In February of 2007, Reyes refused an offer to plead guilty in exchange for a prison sentnece of 15 years. Even as his attorney, William Gerace, was discussing plea aggreements, Reyes was insisting that he wanted another DNA test by an independent evaluator.

This Wednesday, Reyes, who is still being held on bond, got his wish. DNA samples were again taken from Reyes, the girl and her child after Superior Court Judge Thomas Miano agreed to allow independent testing. The results are expected within a week and Reyes's attorney has said that this new test will resolve the case.

When Reyes first appeared in court last year to deny the charges against him, more than 40 of his followers had appeared there in a show of support for him. The numbers have dwindled and this past Wednesday, there were only three there in his support.

The prosecution has said that the first DNA test showed Modesto Reyes to be the baby's father with a 99 percent certainty, Reyes claims that he is within the 1 percent exception on that test. He had better hope that his newly granted, retest shows that or he will have more than explaining to do as to the results. It seems that 15 years isn't too harsh a sentence for assaulting a 12 year-old girl on several occasions as alleged.

Update: posted Aug 15

For the second time this year and in the famous "Jerry Springer" words..... you are the father was the statement. Twice this year, seperate DNA tests have shown with a 99 percent certainty, that Modesto Reyes, 53, is the father of the baby born to a 12 year-old in his congregation.

On Tuesday, August 14 2007, against the advice of his attorney, Reyes repeatedly stated in Superior Court in Hartford CT, that he was not the father. He even claimed in court that he couldn't be the father, instead, it was another man who fathered the child. Last month Reyes won a court ruling that allowed a second, independent DNA test and the results of that are the same as the first.

"He wants to go to trial. I've advised him against it. It could mean that he gets twice as much time. He wants to go down this disastrous path," stated defense attorney William Gerace.

In February, Reyes refused an offer to plead guilty in exchange for a prison sentence of 15 years. On Tuesday, after the DNA results were announced in court, Reyes again rejected an offer to plead guilty and serve 15 years in prison. Judge Thomas Miano then placed the case on the trial list.

Reyes has been held on $750,000 since his arrest and it looks like he may be spending a lot longer than that in the future. I think he will find it very difficult to convince a jury that both tests must be wrong.

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