Gangster turned 'Apostle', Luis "Tito" Morales, on trial for sexually abusing children. Update: 11/05/12: Found GUILTY!

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Normal Gangster turned 'Apostle', Luis "Tito" Morales, on trial for sexually abusing children. Update: 11/05/12: Found GUILTY!

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:07 am

By Amy Pavuk, Orlando Sentinel
10:46 a.m. EDT, October 29, 2012

Jury selection began Monday in Orlando federal court in the case against a gangster turned self-proclaimed "Apostle," accused of sexually abusing children he made "prophets" in his ministry.

Authorities say Luis "Tito" Morales groomed victims through En Fuego for Jesus, a ministry he and wife Linda Morales started out of their Ormond Beach home in 2003.

Through En Fuego, Tito Morales and Linda Morales, a self-proclaimed prophet, tried to recruit people throughout Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico and Honduras.

Tito Morales is accused of grooming a 12-year-old for sex, and told her that in order to continue in the church that she needed to "service him" as the "Apostle," according to a transcript of a May 17 initial appearance hearing.

Morales took the child to Connecticut, and while on the trip, molested her.

Prosecutors said the child was affiliated with two other children, and Morales molested both of them at his Ormond Beach home.

Morales is also accused of grooming and molesting another child, who he took to Arizona and the Virgin Islands. Prosecutors said Morales also took that child to a Tampa hotel and molested her there.

Prosecutors in Orlando also charged Rebeca Rivera, a self-proclaimed En Fuego prophet, with helping transport one of the children.

Since Morales and Rivera were indicted, authorities learned that Morales, Linda Morales and Rivera's husband, Manuel Rivera, "engaged in conduct" that implicates witness tampering.

Court records show that Manuel Rivera admitted he and other prophets in the En Fuego ministry, including Linda Morales, have contacted the victims' parents and threatened to expose them with embarrassing information if they continued with the prosecution.

A federal criminal witness tampering investigation was launched.

Morales was one targeted for death by the mafia in Hartford, Conn.

Morales became friends with the son of one of Hartford's most notorious gangsters, and the duo went into business robbing drug dealers.

The FBI tipped Morales of a mafia plot against him, but in the late 1980s was caught selling cocaine and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In the late 1990s, Morales was arrested on child-sex charges, but the case was dropped. The girls in that case said they were molested at Morales' home on Crossing Trail in Ormond Beach.

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Last edited by Wrapitup on Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Normal Re: Gangster turned 'Apostle', Luis "Tito" Morales, on trial for sexually abusing children. Update: 11/05/12: Found GUILTY!

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:14 am

Trial in Ormond evangelist child sex case begins
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According to an indictment, Luis Morales transported minors in 2009 and 2010 across the country for sex.

By Mark I. Johnson
STAFF WRITER
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012 at 10:29 a.m.

ORLANDO -- The trial of a self-proclaimed evangelist from Ormond Beach and Connecticut resident charged with child sex trafficking began Monday in federal court.
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Luis Morales and Rebeca Rivera are accused of taking minors over state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, a federal indictment handed down in May said. Morales is also accused with of molesting some of those children, who now range in age from 13- to 16 years old.

Prior to the start of jury selection Monday morning, U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton Jr. granted a government motion to close the courtroom to the public and the press during the victims' testimony.

“There are four minor victims testifying they were sexually abused by the defendant and/or defendants,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gable said. “This is probably the hardest thing they have ever had to do.”

By closing the courtroom, Gable said the juvenile victims would be spared the psychological trauma and given them “some sense of relief,” as well a protecting their privacy. Thus they would feel more comfortable communicating what happened to them.

Morales' attorney, Kenneth Weaver, objected to the closure.

“My client was accused publicly,” he said.

Andrew Chmelir, Rivera's counsel, had no objection other than wishing an assurance the jury would not be informed of why the courtroom was being closed for those particular witnesses.

Judge Dalton ruled the media would receive redacted transcripts of the testimony as soon as possible.

Opening arguments were scheduled to begin Monday afternoon.

Morales, 58, who called himself “Apostle Tito” and his wife, Linda, 56, ran a ministry called “En Fuego For Jesus” out of her Ormond Beach home. Rivera was listed as a prophet on the ministry's website.

According to the federal indictment, Morales faces five counts of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity. Rivera is also charged in two of those counts.

Those counts stem from accusations he traveled across state lines with at least six children and molested them, court documents show.

The indictment indicates that in November 2009, Morales and Rivera transported a minor from Florida to Connecticut for the purpose of sexual activity. Then in December 2010 Morales had another minor travel from Arizona to Florida, again for sex. That minor then went from Florida to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to engage in sex, before returning to Florida.

Each of the charges Morales faces carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in federal prison to a maximum penalty of life.

Both Morales and Rivera, 27, are currently in federal custody.

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Normal Re: Gangster turned 'Apostle', Luis "Tito" Morales, on trial for sexually abusing children. Update: 11/05/12: Found GUILTY!

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:07 pm

'Apostle' on trial for child sex abuse

By Amy Pavuk, Orlando Sentinel
8:27 p.m. EDT, October 29, 2012

Opening statements are slated to begin Tuesday in Orlando federal court in the case against a gangster turned self-proclaimed "Apostle," accused of sexually abusing children he made "prophets" in his ministry.

Authorities say Luis "Tito" Morales groomed victims through En Fuego for Jesus, a ministry he and wife, Linda Morales, started out of their Ormond Beach home in 2003.

Through En Fuego, Tito Morales and Linda Morales — a self-proclaimed prophet — tried to recruit people throughout Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico and Honduras.

Tito Morales is accused of grooming a 12-year-old for sex, and told her that in order to continue in the church that she needed to "service him" as the "Apostle," according to a transcript of a May 17 initial appearance hearing.

Morales took the child to Connecticut, and while on the trip, molested her, according to documents in the case.

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Prosecutors said the child was affiliated with two other children, and Morales molested all of them at his Ormond Beach home.

Morales is also accused of grooming and molesting another child, who he took to Arizona and the Virgin Islands. Authorities said Morales also took that child to a Tampa hotel and molested her there.

Prosecutors in Orlando also charged Rebeca Rivera, a self-proclaimed En Fuego prophet, with helping transport one of the children.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gable told the court Monday that four of the victims will testify throughout the trial, which is expected to last seven days.

Since Morales and Rivera were indicted, authorities learned that Morales, Linda Morales and Rivera's husband, Manuel Rivera, "engaged in conduct" that implicates witness tampering.

Court records show that Manuel Rivera admitted he and other prophets in the En Fuego ministry, including Linda Morales, have contacted the victims' parents and threatened to expose them with embarrassing information if they continued with the prosecution.

A federal criminal witness tampering investigation was launched.

Jury selection began Monday morning in the sexual abuse case — a tedious process since jurors were questioned individually. Several prospective jurors were excused because they admitted to being victims of sex abuse or have relatives who are.

Morales was once targeted for death by the mafia in Hartford, Conn. Morales became friends with the son of one of Hartford's most notorious gangsters, and the duo went into business robbing drug dealers.

The FBI tipped Morales to a mafia plot against him, but in the late 1980s, he was caught selling cocaine and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In the late 1990s, Morales was arrested on child-sex charges, but the case was dropped. The girls in that case said they were molested at Morales' home on Crossing Trail in Ormond Beach.

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Normal Re: Gangster turned 'Apostle', Luis "Tito" Morales, on trial for sexually abusing children. Update: 11/05/12: Found GUILTY!

Post by Wrapitup on Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:50 am

Feds: 'Apostle' was a serial sexual predator

By Amy Pavuk, Orlando Sentinel
12:39 p.m. EDT, October 30, 2012

A federal prosecutor told an Orlando jury that Luis "Tito" Morales, a self-proclaimed "Apostle" who runs his church out of a Volusia County home, used his position to sexually abuse children under the pretense the acts were necessary so they could become prophets.

Calling Morales a "serial sexual predator," Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gable told jurors during her opening statement Tuesday that Morales, the "Apostle" of En Fuego for Jesus, found victims through his ministry.

"He exploited their faith and he exploited their vulnerability as children," Gable said.

Morales is charged in a six count indictment accusing him of child-sex trafficking, and transporting a child in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in unlawful sexual activity.

Gable laid out her case for jurors, explaining Morales' involvement with four victims, how he gained their trust, and how he groomed them for abuse.

Morales told the children he wanted to "break them" in order for them to be a prophet, and they had to keep quiet about the sexual abuse.

He traveled out of state, and in one instance, of out the country, with the children.

The courtroom was closed to the public when the victims began testifying Tuesday, a measure Gable requested from the court.

But in her opening statement, Gable told the jury that the first victim to testify would be "T.M.," whose family joined Morales' church in 2009.

Morales almost immediately singled the girl out, and she felt special because she was going to become a prophet.

Gable said Morales began to touch the girl inappropriately, saying that "a good prophet allows him to do these things."

Morales took the child, her siblings, and their uncle to Connecticut so they could record a Christian music album.

He abused the girl during the trip, Morales said. During the trip, "T.M." also interacted with co-defendant Rebeca Rivera, another En Fuego prophet.

Gable told jurors Rivera told "T.M." she had to give herself to the "Apostle."

While in Connecticut, there was an ordination ceremony, and the girl told authorities she felt proud she was appointed a prophet.

When they returned to Ormond Beach, Gable said, Morales again fondled "T.M." and tried to have sex with her. He watched her shower, and the girl to authorities she was humiliated.

Morales gave the girl $50. She told authorities she felt dirty, Gable said.

The prosecutor detailed the other instances and victims, involving one who said she was sexually abused by Morales on an airplane when he and his wife took her to the Virgin Islands.

But defense attorney Kenneth Weaver said Morales disputes all the sexual abuse allegations made against him.

Weaver told jurors in his opening statement there is no physical evidence, no DNA, no admissions of guilt and no witnesses who saw the alleged sex acts.

He called the government's allegations, "absolutely outlandish."

Prosecutors said that through En Fuego, Tito Morales and wife Linda Morales — a self-proclaimed prophet — tried to recruit people throughout the U.S., Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico and Honduras.

Rivera's defense attorney, Andrew Chmelir, told jurors his client is "absolutely innocent." He said she is a devoted wife and mother.

The Orlando federal case isn't the first run-in Tito Morales has had with law enforcement.

Morales was once targeted for death by the mafia in Hartford, Conn.

He was friends with the son of one of Hartford's most notorious gangsters, and the duo went into business robbing drug dealers.

In the late 1980s, Morales was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling cocaine.

Years later, after Morales moved to Florida, two other girls accused Morales of molesting them at his Ormond Beach home. He was arrested, but the case was dropped.

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Normal Sisters among 6 who testify Ormond pastor groped them. According to an indictment Luis Morales transported minors in 2009 and 2010 across the country for sex.

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:35 am

By Mark I. Johnson
STAFF WRITER
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.

ORLANDO – Prosecutors rested Thursday afternoon in the child-sex trafficking and molestation case in federal court against a self-proclaimed Ormond Beach evangelist.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gable wrapped up her prosecution of Luis E. Morales and Rebeca Rivera with the testimony of two adult sisters who claimed as children they had been molested during an overnight stay at the Morales home in 1998.

The women, who The News-Journal is not identifying because of their claims of sexual abuse, said Morales “pinched” their chests and buttocks during games of hide-and-go-seek and crawled under the bed covers with them, groping them under their clothing.

The sisters said their mother was friends with Morales -- also known as "Tito" -- and his wife, Linda. But they were afraid to tell their mother about the abuse, which included Morales trying to get them to kiss him on the mouth.

“I knew what he was doing was wrong,” one sister testified, but I was an 8-year-old who had a 40-year-old man groping me. “I did not know what to do.”

The other sister said, in addition to groping her, Morales watched her take a shower after she soiled the bed where she slept at Morales' Ormond Beach home.

After unsuccessfully attempting to get the five counts against Morales -- and two against Rivera, 27, of Connecticut -- thrown out, the defense called past and present members of En Fuego For Jesus ministry, which Morales and his wife founded and operate out of their Ormond Beach home.

If convicted, Morales faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each of the five charges.

Members of the minstry said they had no knowledge of any sexual impropriety between Morales and four minors who also testified “Apostle Tito” abused them.

The most ardent support of Morales came from wife Linda Morales, who refuted Gables' assertions that she knew about her husband's improprieties.

During her cross-examination, Gable pressed Linda Morales saying she had told the mother of the little girl that her daughter had tried to seduce her husband, because she “knew of the inappropriate sexual activity.”

“That is a lie,” Linda Morales shot back.

The defense is scheduled to call a number of witnesses Friday before wrapping up its case. Then, the jury will get a break over the weekend before attorneys give their closing arguments Monday and the jury begins its deliberations.

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Normal Re: Gangster turned 'Apostle', Luis "Tito" Morales, on trial for sexually abusing children. Update: 11/05/12: Found GUILTY!

Post by raine1953 on Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:28 pm

Sickening and scary!
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Normal 'Apostle' convicted in child sex case

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:05 pm

By Amy Pavuk, Orlando Sentinel
6:56 p.m. EST, November 5, 2012

Self-proclaimed "Apostle" Luis "Tito" Morales, described by authorities as a serial sexual predator who told girls he wanted to "break" them in order for them to become prophets his ministry, was convicted of child-sex trafficking charges Monday.

After hearing closing arguments and deliberating for less than three hours, an Orlando federal jury found Morales, who founded En Fuego for Jesus in his Ormond Beach home, guilty of six charges.

A co-defendant in the case, En Fuego "prophet" Rebeca Rivera, was also convicted of charges filed against her.


Morales and Rivera each face up to life in prison.

Morales is accused of grooming and sexually abusing six girls, several of whom he met through his ministry. The federal charges stem from incident involving four of the girls.

Jurors heard from the victims during closed-courtroom trial testimony last week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gable told the jury during her closing argument Monday how difficult it was for those girls to come forward and explain how they were kissed and fondled, and graphic details about their sexual abuse at the hands of the man to whom they looked up.

The girls said Morales used a phrase associated with the sexual abuse: "I want to break you."

Gable said Morales has a sexual appetite for children. He molested them at his home, in his minivan, in hotel rooms while traveling and even on an airplane while his wife, Linda Morales, sat in first-class, and he and the victim sat in coach, Gable said.

When Morales took several of the victims and their uncle to Connecticut to visit En Fuego members in 2009, Gable said, the "Apostle" insisted on sitting in the back seat of his minivan with the one girl. She asked the jury why Morales' wouldn't drive or sit in the front passenger seat.

It was because Morales wanted to and did molest the girl, Gable said.

During the trip, the victim also interacted with Rivera, an En Fuego prophet who the girls looked up to, according to authorities.

None of the girls immediately reported the sexual abuse, Gable said, because they were afraid and embarrassed. Morales instilled a culture of silence and had control over the girls because he was the "Apostle," the prosecutor said.

But defense attorneys for Morales and Rivera said the government had no evidence against their clients. Defense attorney Kenneth Weaver said there is no physical evidence such as DNA or surveillance videos.

Rivera's attorney told jurors she is a devoted mother and wife.

Defense attorney Andrew Chmelir said the children's testimonies did not jibe, and that one of the victims was being untruthful.

But Gable fired back, telling the jurors during closing arguments it is outlandish to think mothers would force their children to lie about being sexually abused and detail the acts.

Gable said the sexual abuse was not disclosed by the children until after they were out of the En Fuego ministry.

"These children — they were scared," Gable said.

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Normal Re: Gangster turned 'Apostle', Luis "Tito" Morales, on trial for sexually abusing children. Update: 11/05/12: Found GUILTY!

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:06 pm

:cheering: :cheering: :cheering: GUILTY!!!

These poor kids!!

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