Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the suspect is a former attendee of Victory Outreach.
SAN DIEGO — A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl who was a member of a church choir group, San Diego police said.
According to SDPD, on Nov. 6, 2021, the girl, who was 15 years old at the time, attended a baby shower at the home of a member of her church.
The teen was a member of the church choir group with the Victory Outreach Church campus in San Ysidro, police said.
A man drove the then-teen to the baby shower, but instead of driving the girl home after the event, he drove her to the 1800 block of Reo Drive in the Paradise Hills neighborhood, Lt. Carmelin Rivera said in a news release.
After parking the car, the man sexually assaulted the teenager inside the vehicle, police said. He then drove the girl home.
Due to several factors, the girl did not report the assault to police until March 1, authorities said. The SDPD Sex Crimes Unit began investigating the incident after the report.
During the course of their investigation, detectives identified Rafael Valentin Magana as a suspect in this case, Rivera said. He is now 27 years old. According to police, Magana has also been identified with the aliases Rafael Burciaga and Rafael Magana-Burciaga.
Police have said the girl was assaulted by a church choir group leader, but on Sept. 6, the church emailed to FOX 5 a statement saying the accusations involve “former attendees of Victory Outreach” and “do not refer to any person that has ever served in a leadership position at the church.”
“(He was) trusted by this girl and the family and then all of a sudden this incident happens,” SDPD Lt. Carmelin Rivera said to FOX 5 Monday. “That is what this is challenging and disturbing about this particular case.”
Around 6 p.m. on Thursday, officers arrested Magana in the the 2100 block of East Plaza Boulevard in National City for an active felony arrest warrant related to this case, police said.
Magana was booked into San Diego County Jail on suspicion of oral copulation with a person under 16 years old and for lewd and lascivious acts with a 15-year-old child.
Below is the full statement from Victory Outreach:
“We are saddened by accusations involving several, former attendees of Victory Outreach, San Ysidro (“YOSY”). Contrary to misleading media reports, these accusations do not refer to any person that has ever served in a leadership position at the church.
Due to the seriousness of the accusations and ongoing legal proceedings, we cannot provide you with further information at this time.
We will be praying for all those affected. Thank you for your patience and understanding while we continue to assess the situation and determine the best course forward.”
Officials are requesting that anyone who has information regarding this case or who was the victim of a similar assault to call SDPD’s Sex Crimes Unit at 619-531-2210 or leave a tip with Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.
FOX 5’s Kasia Gregorcyzk contributed to this report.