Trial Begins for Retired Pastor Charged with Sex Assaults on 2 Girls

A Mission Viejo man sexually abused two young girls he is related to several years apart, finally getting caught when a teacher asked his son to talk to him while doing school work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday.

Jose Andres Lopez, 70, is facing 18 felony sexual assault charges dating as far back as 1991 through 2020. Lopez is a retired Orange County pastor, but jurors won’t hear that fact during the trial because it was not deemed relevant to the allegations.

Defense attorney Marlin Stapleton Jr. declined to make an opening statement to jurors on Thursday.

On Aug. 21, 2020, one of the alleged victims was finishing up school work remotely at the defendant’s home when he called her up to his room, she testified.

“I went upstairs and then he pulled down my shorts I was wearing that day,” she testified. “That’s when he started (sexually assaulting her).”

Lopez had lubricant and condoms next to his bed, she testified.

“He locked the door like he always would,” she testified. “He would usually put a towel under it, but I don’t think he did that day.”

The victim was 13 at the time, but the abuse started when she was 3, Deputy District Attorney Tara Meath said.

The victim’s brother, who is about a year younger, was also in the house and when he was finishing his remote classes the teacher asked to speak to the defendant to let him know they had worked out some technical issues in connecting virtually, Meath said. The siblings woul