Newark Church Pastor Pleads Guilty To Endangering Welfare Of A Minor

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ELIZABETH — The pastor of a Newark church pleaded guilty yesterday in Superior Court in connection with a case that involved an affair with a congregant where the pair allegedly forced two teenage girls to videotape the trysts at a Linden motel.

Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow announced that Moises Cotto, 55, of East Orange pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.

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Under the terms to the plea he will serve 14 years in prison, said Assistant Prosecutor David Hummel, who prosecuted the case. Upon his release, Cotto must register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be placed on parole supervision for life.

Cotto was arrested in May along with one of his parishioners, Brenda Pabon, 37, of Middlesex County. According to the investigation, Pabon was a member of Cotto’s parish, the Congregation Yahweh in Newark, where she sought counseling from the pastor, said Hummel. 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. Cotto was also affiliated with Yahweh Congregations in Jersey City and Paterson.

While at the motel they allegedly forced two teenage girls to videotape them engaged in sexual acts, said Hummel. The meetings at the motel continued until May 2010 when one of the teenage victims told a parent about the abuse, which allegedly occurred several times a week, said Hummel.

Cotto has been held at the Union County Jail on $1.3 million bail since his arrest. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2011. Pabon is being held on $750,000 bail and her case is still pending.

“This is a man who violated all the values and beliefs that he swore to live by for a life of lies and deceit ” said Romankow.

Romankow commended Det. Patricia Gusmano of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Det. Daniel Sadowski of the Linden Police Department for their thorough work and sensitivity during the investigation.


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