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IE bishop arrested for drug sales, sex abuse

December 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A bishop from Riverside County is under arrest on suspicion of sexual abuse and selling drugs, and it's not the first time he's been in the news. The bishop made headlines in September when he was shot during a robbery outside his church.Bishop Anthony Garduno is now accused of sexually assaulting a teen and selling drugs out of that same church in Home Gardens.

"I don't hate them. I hate what they did," said Anthony Garduno in September, talking about the armed robbery in which he was allegedly attacked inside his church, Our Lady of Tepeyac, by five men in an attempted armed robbery.

What wasn't talked about during the interview is the fact that the church was the same building in which police say the bishop had been molesting children for quite some time.

"This is an individual that truly suits the name of 'despicable,' where he serves a community and he's taking advantage of them of at the same time," said Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.

It was a church community that, at the time, had nothing but sympathy for the bishop, who was wounded during the robbery.

"He's really cool, I don't know, I don't understand why anybody would want to try to fight him or hurt him," said parishioner Gloria Martinez in September.

The reason, police say, might have been because the bishop is a suspected drug dealer.

"We believe that the suspects knew that this church was a house where deals were being made for drugs, and that's the reason why they went to that church," said Gutierrez.

And how did police gather that information? From a church member who came forward.

But perhaps more startling to detectives was the fact that the church member told them he was molested by Garduno when he was a child.

Tuesday, police served a search warrant at Our Lady of Tepeyac church. And from evidence collected, they believe there might also be others who were potentially molested.

"He hides behind the cloth and he gains the confidence of the parents," said Gutierrez. "We do have children that we can't identify yet, and we're asking the public if they recognize the suspect, to come forward, report it to any law enforcement agency or the Riverside County Sheriff's Department."

If you have information related to this case, you're asked to call the Riverside County Sheriff's Dept. at (951) 955-2600.

Garduno was being held in the Robert Presley Detention Center, suspected of dealing drugs and molesting children.


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