A former Anglican priest charged with multiple counts of sexual battery told one of his followers that he was cursed and was going to die unless the alleged victim agreed to one of his special healing massages.
Police say the massage given by Jesus Antonio Castaneda Serna wasn’t special at all, and was just a way for the accused priest to sexually assault his victims, nearly all adult males.
Serna was arrested in February and has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of felony sexual battery involving 10 members of his former church, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe church in Fresno.
He was in court Tuesday for the continuation of his preliminary hearing before Judge Jane Cardoza. The judge will decide if there is enough evidence for Serna to stand trial. If found guilty, he could face 23 years and six months in prison.
The alleged victim testified Tuesday that Serna was referred to him by his family because the priest was rumored to have healing powers. The alleged victim was struggling with drug addiction and he wanted to get clean.
But it soon became clear the priest’s healing massage involved more than just praying and massaging oil on his body. Serna told him during one of their sessions that he was cursed and there was only way to cure him.
“He said the only way to help me was to masturbate me and see my semen,” the alleged victim testified.
The witness said Serna needed to examine his semen to determine how to fight the demon inside of him. When asked by prosecutor Kelly Smith why he stayed, the witness said Serna had him convinced he could help him and he wanted desperately to be off drugs.
“He told me I was so sick that I was going to die,” the alleged victim testified.
The witness endured several painful massages that left him bruised and with severe redness around his neck and chest area.
“I couldn’t move for two to three days,” he said.
Serna instructed him during one session to masturbate so he could see his semen, but he testified he couldn’t do it. During another session, he said, Serna allegedly pulled on his penis so hard that he was urinating blood for two to three days.
“I just wanted to get well,” the alleged victim testified. “When father would see me in church, he would tell me that I looked bad and I needed more prayer.”
Serna’s preliminary hearing continues Wednesday.