After a Las Vegas pastor was arrested in December on suspicion of sexually abusing children, four more girls came forward to tell police about alleged abuse that took place at the church since about 2016, according to arrest reports released Tuesday.
The pastor, 44-year-old Bramwell Bernardo Retana, was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on Dec. 20 and initially faced six counts of lewdness with a child under 14, two counts or luring a child with a computer to engage in a sexual act, and one count each of first-degree kidnapping of a minor and child abuse. After media reports of Retana’s arrest, at least four more girls told police they were sexually abused, the reports said.
Based on the additional reports, 24 more counts were filed against Retana, who is the pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Oasis De Paz, 2020 Michael Way. Charges in the second case were filed Dec. 27, according to Las Vegas Justice Court records.
Records show he now faces 13 more counts of lewdness with a child under 14, 10 more counts of first-degree kidnapping of a minor and one count of preventing or dissuading the report of a crime.
According to Retana’s arrest report in the first case, the initial charges were filed after a girl told detectives the pastor had been assaulting her for at least a year. The girl had attempted suicide and stopped wanting to attend church, the report said.
Days prior to his arrest, one of the girl’s family members overheard her speaking with Retana’s wife over the phone, who is identified in the report as Gabby.
“(Redacted) overheard Gabby say ‘sorry for talking to you that way, I thought you were trying to steal my husband,’” the report said.
Originally from Costa Rica, Retana was ordained in 2002 as a licensed minister in Phoenix. He and his wife founded the church, which started in their living room, in March 2004, according to the church’s website.
The girl later told detectives the abuse started more than a year ago, when Retana “began kissing and licking her bare feet” in his office when another child was present. He continued assaulting her and at one point sent her a pornographic image, the report said.
During an interview with police, Retana’s wife admitted that she learned in May 2019 that Retana had kissed the girl, and she knew the two would talk on the phone every day.
“Gabby explained due to the fact she did not have any other proof this was occurring she did not report the incidents,” the report said.
Retana admitted to assaulting two girls at the church, but he denied “doing anything sexual” with other children, the report said.
But on Dec. 27, the same day the additional charges were filed against Retana, detectives interviewed four additional girls who said they had been abused by the pastor.
Detectives determined the abuse had been happening since about 2016. The girls and other adults said they believed there may be more victims.
One woman told police she “believes they are afraid to come forward in fear of retaliation or immigration issues.”
One victim told police the abuse started when she was “six or seven years old,” the report said.
The four additional victims said the abuse happened in Retana’s office at the church and at a home on the church’s property, that one girl said Retana’s parents lived at. One girl said Retana had forcibly pulled her into his office multiple times, at one point scratching her and leaving a scar.
When one girl was “eight or nine years old,” Retana took her and another child into the home because he wanted to play a “role playing” game where he acted like a dog or a horse, the report said.
“It should be noted, during Retana’s post-Miranda interview he explained he has a fetish and likes to be dominated and treated like a dog for sexual gratification,” a detective wrote in the report.
One parent said that after seeing report of Retana’s arrest she spoke to her children, who said he didn’t touch them inappropriately. But one daughter later said “Retana would play a game with them that they did not think was bad however, Retana would tell them not to tell anybody,” the report said.
The woman told police she believed Retana “would take advantage of the children ‘one by one’ while the adults were occupied with church functions.”
On Jan. 3, according to the records, Retana surrendered his bond, and he remained in the jail Tuesday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 3.
Attempts to reach Retana have been unsuccessful, and his attorney, Ryan Helmick, has previously declined to comment to the Review-Journal.
Anyone with information about Retana, or anyone who believes he or she may have been a victim of abuse, may contact Metro’s juvenile sexual assault division at 702-828-3421. Anonymous tips may be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.