LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Congregants at a Las Vegas church confronted their now-former pastor earlier this year about allegations of sexual abuse, the I-Team has learned.
Fermin Rangel-Ramos, 52, was the presiding pastor at Centro Cristiano Bethel Church near Vegas and Rancho drives for more than 20 years. His name has since been scrubbed from the church’s sign outside the building.
The Spanish-speaking church, which is connected to a parent church based in Mexico, has a membership of about 250 people.
According to Rangel-Ramos’ arrest warrant, police began their investigation in April. Officers arrested Rangel-Ramos earlier this week. He faces two counts of lewdness with a minor and three counts of open or gross lewdness with a child in connection with incidents between November 2019 and April of this year, police said.
On April 7, several dozen members of the church, alleged victims and their families confronted Rangel-Ramos at the church. According to police, as many as 60 people attended the gathering where about 11 girls, all between the ages of 15 and 23, “stood up and confronted Pastor Rangel one at a time.”
“During the meeting, Pastor Rangel denied the allegations and refused to leave his position,” police wrote in the arresting document, but after hearing from his alleged victims, he left.
“After the girls spoke, Pastor Rangel said he was sorry, said he would quit being the pastor, and he left the church,” police stated. The following day, an alleged victim’s father reported the allegations to LVMPD.
One alleged victim later told police about an incident from several years ago where Rangel-Ramos showed up to her house and took her shopping, police reported. On the drive, Rangel-Ramos allegedly took off his seatbelt, leaned over and tried to kiss her, documents said.
“Pastor Rangel agreed to take [redacted] home and he told [redacted] not to tell her parents,” investigators wrote in the warrant. “After they returned to her house, Pastor Rangel acted like nothing happened.”
Police later interviewed a 17-year-old congregant who told them she knew of the allegations, but that she had no history of inappropriate behavior with the pastor.
“[Redacted] described the situations as Pastor Rangel kissing them on the cheek, near the lips and touching them on the back and/or waist,” police stated. The teenager also told police the pastor would text her, but “only about ‘church stuff,’” police stated.
In May, two Spanish-speaking detectives attended a church service and spoke in front of the congregation to offer their assistance.
“As we left the church, one female member approached detectives and explained there are ‘a lot of victims,’ but they may still be scared to talk and they believed it would be handled by God,” police stated.
Police also included several allegations of the pastor touching teenagers’ and young women’s breasts while greeting them.
During an interview with detectives, Rangel denied the allegations. When police brought up the allegation involving the girl whom he drove to the store, he replied: “She’s crazy. I only told her I liked her, that she was cute. That she was nice. Nothing else,” police stated.
Rangel-Ramos agreed to a polygraph examination in June, but never showed up, police said. He also stopped returning another investigators’ phone calls.
Detectives believe Rangel-Ramos may have more victims who have not come forward. Anyone who may have been a victim of Rangel-Ramos is urged to call Metro’s sex crimes unit at 702-828-3421. Or to remain anonymous, you can call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.
8 News Now also tried speaking with Rangel-Ramos’ family, but a woman who answered the door at his listed address said she had nothing to stay. A phone number for the church was disconnected Wednesday.