Police: Charlotte pastor hit with additional child sex charges, more victims identified

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte minister is facing additional charges of sex crimes against children after police say five young girls came forward claiming abuse after he was arrested last week.

Sixty-four-year-old Orlando Agusto Caldera was charged with 26 additional felony charges, accused of sexually assaulting victims while serving as an associate minister at his church.

Detectives say five young girls came forward, claiming to be sexually assaulted by Caldera. The victims were between the ages of six and ten-years-old.

Caldera was initially charged with two counts of indecent liberties with a child last week after Charlotte officers were called to Memorial United Methodist Church to the report of a disturbance.

When they arrived, officers found a ten-year-old girl, a six-year-old girl and one of the young girls' mothers.

They told police Caldera, a minister with the church, had inappropriately touched both of the girls.

"He's in a position of trust within the church. He's a pastor in that church," said Major Michael Smathers of CMPD, "He's a leader in that church and I think he took full advantage of that role and the trust that comes along with that role and victimized these poor children."

WBTV has learned that Caldera served Spanish-speaking members of Memorial United Methodist Church for almost nine years.

The church's lead pastor, Don Newman, says the church does have safeguards in place, and that they do background checks on all staff who have contact with children.

Detectives with the Youth Crimes Unit say through extensive interviews the alleged victims say they were alone with Caldera at the times of the assaults. A church leader with the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, Resident Bishop Larry Goodpaster, said that violates their policies.

"The safe sanctuary policies we have at all of our churches have them that's one of those rules and it breaks your heart when it happens," said Goodpaster.

"We're deeply hurt on behalf of those that have been hurt," said Goodpaster, "We want to make sure we do everything we can to help them."

Anyone with information about these cases is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or visit the Crime Stoppers mobile app website at http://charlottecrimestoppers.com.

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