California Baptist Minister Sentenced To 34 Years For Molesting Child In His Parish

Fernando Maldonado

SF Gate

“A Martinez pastor who fled to Mexico during his 2017 sexual molestation trial, only to be captured and extradited back to the U.S., was sentenced Friday to 34 years in prison.

A judge gave Fernando Maldonado, 37, the maximum sentence in a Richmond courtroom two weeks after he was captured in the resort town of Cancun.

Maldonado, in a yellow jail shirt, said nothing during his sentencing, according to Contra Costa district attorney spokesman Scott Alonso. He had been returned to the custody of the county Tuesday.

Maldonado was charged in 2015 with sexual abuse of a girl in his parish at Morello Baptist Church in Martinez, starting when she was 13. At the time of his trial, he was free on $1.29 million bail.

The trial began in December. After the victim testified for two days, Maldonado bolted. A prosecutor said he had been seen driving south on Interstate 5, near San Diego. Alonso said Maldonado, a dual citizen, used his Mexican citizenship identification to enter the country.

The trial continued without him. The trial judge informed the jury that Maldonado’s sudden absence could not be held against him, Alonso said. The jury convicted him on 23 counts.

After sentencing, Maldonado was being held at the Martinez jail pending his transfer to state prison, Alonso said.”

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