LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A former Las Vegas pastor has entered into a plea agreement that will require him to serve at least a year in prison after his congregation confronted him with accusations of sexual abuse and forced him out.
The 8 News Now I-Team reported in September that Fermin Rangel-Ramos was confronted by families in his congregation in April 2021, and his name was scrubbed from a sign outside the church. He was arrested in late August, facing five charges at the time. His plea deal allows him to avoid prosecution on three of those charges.
Police said the allegations were reported the day after about 11 girls, all between the ages of 15 and 23 at the time, stood up and confronted Rangel-Ramos one at a time at the church. He initially denied the accusations, but after the girls spoke he agreed to leave the church. He was arrested the next day.
Rangel-Ramos on Tuesday entered an Alford plea — not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgement that prosecutors have sufficient proof to find him guilty — to one count of open/gross lewdness in the presence of a child, and one count of open/gross lewdness.
The first count is a felony, which carries a minimum of a year in prison. The maximum sentence on that count is four years in prison. The second count is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum of 364 days in prison. He could also face fines of up to $7,000.
Rangel-Ramos, who was 52 when he was arrested in August of 2021, could serve more than a year if the judge decides to make the sentences consecutive or decides he should serve more time than the deal prescribes. The plea deal sets aside a second felony count and two misdemeanor counts.
He was the pastor of Centro Cristiano Bethel Church near Vegas Drive and Rancho Drive, serving there for more than 20 years. It’s a Spanish-speaking church of about 250 people, and it’s connected to a parent church based in Mexico.