Newark Pastor Faces Sex Charges

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Moises Cotto (courtesy of the Prosecutor's Office)

UNION COUNTY — The pastor of a Newark church and one of his congregants were arrested earlier this week and face a variety of charges after it was revealed that they forced teenage girls to videotape the pair engaged in sexual acts at a Linden motel, Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow announced Wednesday.

Moises Cotto, 55,  of  East Orange was arrested on Monday night. He is charged with three counts of kidnapping, one count of second degree attempted aggravated assault; one count of second degree attempted aggravated sexual assault and three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.

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Brenda Pabon, 37,  of Middlesex County is charged with three counts of kidnapping and three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, said Romankow.

According to the investigation, Pabon was a member of Cotto’s parish, the Congregation Yahweh located at 20 Chester Avenue in Newark, where she sought counseling from the pastor. Beginning in 2008 Pabon and Cotto began an affair that was sexual in nature and would regularly meet at the Benedict Motel on Routes 1 & 9 in Linden, said Romankow.

While at the motel they allegedly forced two teenage girls to videotape them engaged in sexual acts and on several occasions they forced at least one girl to undress and pose in pictures with the pastor, said Romankow.

According to authorities, the investigation also revealed that during at least one of the meetings at the motel, the Pastor allegedly attempted to sexually assault one of the girls, who resisted.

The meetings at the motel continued until about two weeks ago when one of the teenage victims told a parent about the abuse, which allegedly occurred several times a week, said Romankow.

An investigation was immediately launched and Cotto was arrested on Monday at his home. He is currently being held at the Union County Jail on $1.3 million bail. Pabon surrendered to local authorities on Tuesday afternoon and is being held on $750,000 bail.

Cotto also affiliated with Yahweh Congregations in Jersey City and Paterson.

The investigation was handled by Det. Patricia Gusmano of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Det. Daniel Sadowski of the Linden Police Department.

This remains an active investigation and authorities urge anyone with additional information to contact Det. Gusmano at (908) 965-3809.


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