Geronimo Aguilar surrendered to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force at his Richmond home on Tuesday afternoon after authorities in Fort Worth, Texas, issued a warrant for his arrest. Aguilar, who goes by Pastor G, founded the Richmond Outreach Center, a mega-church in south Richmond.
Aguilar is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, according to a statement released Tuesday by Richmond Police.
Aguilar's lawyer, David Carlson, blasted Fort Worth police in a Tuesday night interview with Style. He says the decision to issue a fugitive warrant and take his client into custody was inappropriate because he'd told police Aguilar was willing to cooperate and had hired an attorney to represent him in Texas.
"We would have very easily taken him to Texas," Carlson says. "There was no reason to take him in as a fugitive when it's quite the contrary."
Carlson says a reporter at WRIC-TV8 received and reported news Monday night that the warrant had been issued before Carlson was given notice on behalf of his client. TV8 first reported that investigators had reopened the case that goes back to allegations first made in the 1990s.
"Given the level of cooperation that I had extended to them I would have expected better than that," Carson says. "But now that I know the caliber of what I'm dealing with I'm going to respond and act professionally, accordingly. ... The case is 17 years old. Seventeen."
As we detailed in an article last week, this isn't the first time Aguilar has faced such accusations:
Two sisters took to an online message board in May 2011 to denounce Aguilar... The women's message was persistent and captured Aguilar's attention: They alleged that the spiritual leader had repeatedly molested their 16-year-old niece, according to a pair of civil lawsuits filed by Aguilar in Richmond Circuit Court in August 2011. The lawsuits, each asking for more than $10 million in damages, accuse the women of defaming and inflicting emotional distress on Aguilar. more
Carlson says Aguilar is currently in police custody in Richmond pending a hearing Wednesday. Here's the statement Richmond Police released Tuesday:
The Fort Worth Police Department Crimes Against Children Unit (CACU) received a report of sexual abuse of a child, from law enforcement officials in Anaheim, California. The allegations were that two females made an outcry of sexual abuse by Geronimo Aguilar. Both victims were juveniles at the time of the alleged offenses and are now adults.
This case was assigned to Fort Worth Police Detective Nash. Detective Nash investigated the case and determined that there was probable cause to believe that Aguilar had committed the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 14. After consulting with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, Detective Nash generated two (2) probable cause arrest warrants for those charges, one for each victim.
Due to the age of the victims at the time of the offense, this is an “Aggravated” charge. Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 14 is a 1st degree felony in the State of Texas and is punishable by 5-99 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Mr. Aguilar surrendered without incident to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force at his home in Richmond, Virginia about 4:00 p.m., local time.
No other information will be released at this time.
The Redskins training camp in Richmond is on schedule for a July opening and officials are proud and happy.
During a hard hat tour of the facility, Bruce Allen, the general manager of Redskins, digs deep to convey the powerful emotions he’s feeling, invoking the 1989 feel-good classic “Field of Dreams” throughout his short remarks:
You know, when you’re sitting here, you can’t help but think of that movie line: “Build it and they will come.” Well, when the governor and the mayor first brought this up to us seven, eight months ago, we said, “Let’s see what we can do.” And sure enough, we’re building the field of dreams for our players and this community.
At the University of Richmond, I learned one lesson in real estate in business school. And the maxim they said was location, location, location. And here next to the Science Museum of Virginia and the Children’s Museum of Richmond is a perfect location. Because collectively we have three objectives: One, we want to positively effect one child’s life every practice. We want to have great growth and stimulate the economy locally. And we want to prepare our team for a winning season.
I want to thank everybody, and yes, the Redskins will be coming to our field of dreams.
Flanked by two bike-mounted police officers and trailed by his ubiquitous black SUV, Mayor Dwight Jones commemorates national Bike to Work Day on Friday by leading a group of about 80 cyclists on a leisurely ride from Monroe Park to City Hall.
Style Weekly approaches Jones for an interview as he pedals down East Marshall: Does Jones ride his bicycle often? (No.) What can city cyclists expect from his administration? (Great things.) Is he happy with the city budget? (Yes.) Does he think the $400,000 the city spends annually on his security detail is a justifiable expense? (Won't say.)
The questions may be softballs and the answers may be jumbled and barely audible, but we're pretty sure it's the only time you're likely to see Jones grant an interview to the press while he's riding a bike. So savor it.
The full-bearded City Councilman behind the decision to declare April “Facial Hair Appreciation Month” in Richmond appeared freshly shaven at a public meeting Monday, dismaying the city's growing number of beard enthusiasts.
“I definitely wish he wouldn’t have done it,” says Stephen Brown, vice president of the Richmond Beard League. “I for one liked having a facial-haired councilman.”
Parker Agelasto’s beard rose to notoriety in the run-up to last year’s election. He was the only full-bearded candidate to seek office, and the beard league considered his victory over Marty Jewell, who sports a mustache, a step forward for city residents with facial hair. Currently the only other City Council member with a beard is Chris Hilbert, who has a small, trim goatee-mustache combination.
Agelasto’s beard is also notable outside local political circles. Late last month he competed in the Mid-Atlantic Beard and Mustache Competition hosted in Richmond by the Beard League. Out of a field of 24 competitors, Agelasto won fifth place in the full-beard (under one inch) category.
And as an extra in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” Agelasto’s beard was featured in theaters around the world.
Agelasto defends his decision to shave and denies accusations of pandering. “I hope that [my constituents] voted for me for more reasons than just my beard,” he says. “I will continue to … defend the position of all men and women with facial hair.”
Travis Oliver, the treasurer of the Beard League, says he believes Agelasto and has no problem with his decision to shave. Vice President Brown concurs, though both say they hope Agelasto eventually decides to grow it back.
“He’s done a lot of good things in the community with a beard,” Oliver says. “Even without a beard, I think he'll still be a supporter of facial hair in Richmond and in the entire state of Virginia as well.”
City administrators are considering a department-wide spending freeze as they work to confront a projected $5 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year.
Council members say deputy chief administrative officer for finance Sharon Judkins floated the possible halt to all “non-essential spending” when she brought up the projected deficit as an aside during a 10-hour budget meeting May 6.
Council members say they’ve yet to receive anything in writing from the administration regarding the shortfall -- a point of frustration, council members say, because the city charter requires the mayor to notify them of any budgetary issues “without delay.”
“In terms of giving council good, timely information that we can work with -- I don’t think we’ve received that just yet,” says 5th District Councilman Parker Agelasto.
Michael Wallace, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, hasn’t yet returned a request late last week for more details and comment.
A source familiar with the issue says administrators plan to release a detailed report on the issue sometime this week. The source says they would have known about the projected shortfall in late April.
Members of City Council say not being told about the issue until May 6 constitutes a significant delay.
“We were hoping we’d have some details forthcoming in the not too distant future,” says 3rd District Councilman Chris Hilbert. “The administration needs to report to council quickly in a situation where they’re anticipating a budget shortfall, and I’m not sure they did that. From what I understand, no council members got any communication on that. It was a surprise.”
The city charter lays out the mayor’s duty to report an anticipated shortfall:
If at any time during the fiscal year it appears probable to the mayor that the revenue or fund balances available will be insufficient … the mayor shall report to the city council without delay, indicating the estimated amount of the deficit, any remedial action taken by the mayor and recommendations as to any other steps to be taken. The council shall then take such further action as it deems necessary to prevent or reduce any deficit, and for that purpose it may by ordinance reduce one or more appropriations.
Council members say that when Judkins reported the shortfall she attributed it to equipment purchases in the police department, overtime issues in the department of public works, and revenue issues in other departments. In addition to a possible spending freeze, the administration expects to make up a portion of the shortfall with $1.6 million in funds set aside for a project that never went forward last fiscal year.
After we broke the news (organizers sent us a press release, but still) that the state’s first adult entertainment expo is coming to Richmond on June 1, reports emerged that the Clarion Hotel on North Boulevard is trying to get out of its contract to host the event.
The hotel is under new management, and “the expo doesn't line up with their new image,” according to NBC-12, which broadcast two reports on the subject in as many days. The motel is two stories and sandwiched between I-64 and the ball park. Online reviewers describe it alternately as “crappy” and “somewhat creepy at night.”
The expo’s organizers told the station that they have a contract and won’t back down. Clarion, meanwhile, is threatening to not rent rooms to expo-goers.
NBC-12 is promising to closely follow this “developing story.”
Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s attempt to resurrect Virginia’s “crimes against nature” statute after it was struck down in March has been denied, according to reports by GayRVA.com and The Huffington Post.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit declined Cuccinelli’s request for the case to be reheard by a full 15-judge panel.
Virginia’s crimes against nature statute makes anal and oral sex between consenting adults a class-6 felony. The court decided in the earlier 2-1 ruling that the ban on the sex acts is unconstitutional.
Greg Nevins, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, a nonprofit dedicated to the equal rights for lesbians and gay men, tells GayRVA.com the outcome is unsurprising.
“Trying to get a rehearing en banc is about as much a long shot as trying to get a hearing at the Supreme Court, so this was kind of a hail mary pass in of itself.”
Taking this case to the U.S. Supreme Court would be Cuccinelli’s next step, but Nevins said it’s hard to imagine SCOTUS even accepting it. “To say ‘Hey, the Sodomy law we struck down 10 years ago should be allowed to have some vitality,’ I just can’t imagine the Supreme Court being interested in that. I don’t think it would be likely to be successful.”
Meanwhile, Cuccinelli continues to dodge questions about whether he or any of his staff has violated the crimes against nature statute he was attempting to have upheld.
In an article last week, Mother Jones noted that based on data from the National Center on Health Statistics, the Virginia law would make 90 percent of men and women in the United States between the age of 25 and 44 criminals.
Mother Jones asked Cuccinelli’s campaign if “Cuccinelli or anyone working for his campaign had ever engaged in any of the prohibited conduct and whether Cuccinelli would fire any campaign staff who had done so.”
Mother Jones reported receiving no response. Likewise, Cuccinelli’s campaign staff didn’t respond to Style Weekly’s inquiry as to whether Cuccinelli or his staff had violated the act.
Richmond Police say a YouTube video that appears to show an officer lunging at and choking a man at the Shamrock the Block festival Saturday is being reviewed by department administrators.
Police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh says the review will be conducted by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and is still in its infancy. She says the department currently has no other details to release. Richmond Police didn’t immediately identify the officers involved in the arrests or those arrested at the annual St. Patrick’s Day street festival in Shockoe Bottom.
Two separate videos, including one titled “Cops choke out drunk at shamrock the block 2013,” were uploaded to YouTube Sunday evening and show the incident, which begins as police deal with an apparently intoxicated man wearing nothing but green boxer briefs.
Over the course of several minutes, the situation deteriorates. Following what in the video appears to be a verbal exchange between a separate, clothed man and an officer, a brawl ensues (at 2:35 in the above video). The video shows the officer stepping toward the man, grabbing his neck and wrestling him against a wall.
The man fights back and at one point pins the officer to the ground before a police sergeant with a telescoping night stick intervenes, striking the subject several times. Once the man is subdued, the sergeant gets up and begins to push a crowd of onlookers away from the scene, telling them, “Y’all back the fuck up.”
Steve Benjamin, a Richmond Defense attorney, says it’s not clear from the video alone whether the officer’s actions are justified.
“Looking at this, I cannot say the officer was acting inappropriately,” he says. “One thing that’s obvious is that the only people who will be able to accurately assess the officer’s actions will be those who are able to interview the witnesses involved, including the officers, to determine all the facts -- all of the surrounding circumstances."
Benjamin says that based on the video alone it looks like police handled the situation as well as possible.
“From what I have seen, it appears that the officer was acting appropriately to maintain control of a volatile situation,” he says. “They obviously had to work very hard to calm down the first individual. … They eventually get him calm, but the crowd appears to be aggravating the situation. Then this one guy appears to move back in on the situation that they now have under control. We don’t know what he’s saying or doing and we’re missing an essential part of the video because the camera pans down to the ground, but when it comes back up, he’s clearly in the officer’s space.”
Richmonders reacting to the video on Twitter interpreted the video very differently:
@ksiddall thats the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a long time— Nick Dawson (@nickdawson) March 18, 2013
@nickdawson agreed. I am pro police. I support the RPD. You'd never see this with the older generation of police. The newer RPD scare me— Kira Siddall (@KSiddall) March 18, 2013
And, for the record, here's the second video of the altercation:
Virginia Commonwealth University's swinging pep band, the Peppas, showed up on the set of The Today Show this morning atop a double-decker "Havoc" bus.
Al Roker climbed aboard the bus and jammed for a bit. VCU plays St. Joseph's University tonight at 6:30 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Avert your eyes, University of Richmond fans: See the video here.
The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” statute is unconstitutional. Among other things, the act criminalizes “all acts of oral and anal sex, including private acts between consenting adults,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports the decision.
From the ACLU’s press release:
The Court of Appeals wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 2003 ruling, Lawrence v. Texas, invalidated all state statutes that criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults, and ruled that such statutes should not be the basis of a criminal prosecution. “It is shameful that Virginia continued to prosecute individuals under the sodomy statute for ten years after the Supreme Court held that such laws are unconstitutional," said ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg. "This ruling should bring an end to such prosecutions.”
Read the court’s decision here