Murrieta Religious Leader Accused Of Molesting 3 Girls

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Mary
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Murrieta Religious Leader Accused Of Molesting 3 Girls

#1 Post by Mary » Sat Mar 29, 2008 8:35 pm

Murrieta Religious Leader Accused Of Molesting 3 Girls


Jury Selection Begins In Case Of Simental, 49

March 27, 2008
POSTED: 11:16 pm PDT
Article Source
knbc.com


MURRIETA, Calif. -- Jury selection began Thursday in the trial of a Jehovah's Witness leader accused of molesting three girls in his congregation, City News Service reported.

Gilbert Simental, 49, is accused of lewd behavior with a 9-year-old and two 10-year-old daughters of congregation members during sleepovers or visits by the girls to his Murrieta home between 2005 and 2006.

Officials said that Thursday was the first day of jury selection, with attorneys questioning prospective jurors about their possible biases and their ability to sit on the case and make a fair judgment.

Judge F. Paul Dickerson ordered those jurors not excused for hardship or any other reason to return to court April 3, according to officials.

Testimony is expected to begin the week of April 6, officials said.

Simental's alleged crimes came to light when the mother of two of the girls told school officials she didn't want the suspect near her children and the school principal called police, according to court papers.

The defendant had allegedly told other members of the congregation about two of the girls and was transferred to a congregation in French Valley, according to Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky.

On Tuesday, Judge F. Paul Dickerson ruled that his alleged confessions to congregation elders were not privileged and could be revealed in court.

Two of the elders filed a motion to quash subpoenas for their appearance and testimony in court, officials said.

Dickerson agreed with the prosecution contention that the statements to the elders were made in committee and the results of the proceedings disseminated to the parents, officials said.

Authorities said the elders told the girls' parents that they did not have to go to police.


KNBC.com and KNBC (NBC4 Los Angeles).
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