Prison sentences for ‘fake pastor,’ journalist
Couple found guilty of holding a woman captive for three months in 2012
Jesús Olivera and his wife, Estefanía Heit, a journalist, were yesterday sentenced to 18 and 13 years in prison, respectively, for holding a woman captive for three months in 2012 at a house located in the Buenos Aires province city of Coronel Suárez.
Bahía Blanca’s Criminal Court No.1 ruled that 35-year old Sonia Marisol Molina had been reduced to slavery and suffered physical and sexual abuse.
In their ruling, judges María Elena Baquedano, Mario Lindor Burgos and Hugo Da Rosa, stated that the Olivera and Heit had worked together to orchestrate the crimes of “subjection to servitude, causing serious injuries and repeated embezzlement.”
She was tricked into selling her property, the judges ruled, giving Heit and Olivera 100,000 pesos in order to enter the fake cult.
The court also ruled that Olivera, who has become known as the “fake pastor,” committed sexual abuse but dismissed the charges that the married couple sought to murder Molina.
Despite the victim having been found “in a state of malnutrition and severe dehydration... putting her life in some risk,” it wasn’t proven that her captors intended to murder her, the judges ruled.
“Justice was done. ... although I hoped that they would receive a longer prison sentence, I’m still satisfied,” Molina said in the entrance to the courtroom after the verdict was read. “I’ve been calm since I escaped, obviously you have to learn to live with these types of things, it’s not something you forget, but the important thing is that these people are no longer free.”
The trial’s prosecutor, Eduardo Zaratiegui, agreed with Molina, stating that even though the court did not rule favourably in all the charges, it was still a “just ruling” so there would not be an appeal.
The prosecutor had requested that Olivera and Heit be given 22- and 16-year-prison sentences, and that they both be charged with “attempted homicide,” as well as sexual abuse.
The accused couple declined the opportunity to give any “final words” before the verdict was read out.
The crimes they were accused of took place between August 9 and November 12, 2012 at a house located on Grand Bourg street in Coronel Suárez, where Olivera and Heit lived. The crimes were revealed after Molina managed to escape and go to the police, where she denounced the couple for having held her captive for three months, raped and tortured her and even made her eat dog excrement.
When she escaped, Molina was suffering advanced malnutrition and was in terrible physical conditions, leading to her hospitalization.
The criminal investigators determined the woman had been imprisoned by the couple after they made her false promises that she could enter a religious organization led by an alleged pastor, if Molina gave them money.
Herald with Telam, DyN