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Rape charges dropped

| Wednesday, June 18, 2003, 12:00 p.m.

Allegheny County prosecutors Tuesday dropped a rape charge against a former Ohio Township minister charged with sexually molesting a teenage girl during counseling sessions.

But David Valencia, 47, of Tucson, Ariz., will go to trial on charges of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor. Valencia waived his right to a preliminary hearing before Bellevue District Justice Donald Presutti.

Valencia is accused of assaulting a girl, then 17, on three occasions between spring and August 2001 at the Christ Church at Grove Farm, where he served as assistant pastor.

The rape charge was dropped because of insufficient evidence, said spokesman Mike Manko of the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office.

"We agreed with doing that," the girl's stepfather said of the withdrawn rape charge. "The charges that are left are very powerful charges. We're very pleased with what happened. He's been remanded for trial on five serious counts, and by waiving the preliminary hearing, we think that's a very positive step toward achieving justice."

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review does not identify the victims of alleged sexual assaults.

"This is a very difficult time for her," the girl's stepfather said. "She's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that justice is served and no one else is harmed."

Neither Valencia nor defense attorney Patrick Thomassey would comment after the hearing.

Valencia massaged the girl's bare breasts and performed other sex acts on her, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

"He insinuated to her that because her family was not paying for these counseling sessions, and that he was helping her out of the goodness of his heart, she should do her best to keep her family happy," the affidavit said.

The girl initially refused his offer of what he referred to as "sexual therapy" and denied further requests for sexual contact after the third incident, the affidavit said. He apologized and instructed her not to tell anyone, the affidavit said.

Valencia "expressed and implied intellectual, moral, emotional and psychological force in order to gain compliance from the victim in these acts," the affidavit said.

Ohio Township police Chief Norbert Micklos said the girl's sister contacted police in May.

By then, Valencia was working as an assistant pastor at the Catalina Foothills Church in Tucson. Church officials there became aware of the situation May 28 and fired him two days later. He was arrested last month in Tucson on a fugitive warrant filed on the local charges.

Valencia remains free after posting 10 percent of a $2,000 bail bond -- or $200 in cash. His next court date is Aug. 19 in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

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