St. George man accused of sexually abusing 3 children in church van arrested

Stock image of St. George Police patrol unit, St. George, Utah, July 9, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A local man was arrested following allegations he sexually abused three children multiple times while riding in a church van.

Juan Ubaldo Guerra, 56, of St. George, has been charged with five second-degree felony counts of sexual abuse of a child for offenses allegedly committed between the two cases.

The arrest stems from two separate investigations that began within a month of one another.

The most recent was opened Sept. 18 following an interview with a 12-year-old girl who reported that when she was 5-6 years old, she would ride the church bus. While sitting in the back seat, a man identified only as “Juan” would “continuously try and touch her,” and at times, he was successful. She went on to say that on more than one occasion, the suspect allegedly grabbed the child’s wrists and forced her to do the same, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest.

Through the course of the investigation, the detective ran a records search and found that Guerra fit the description, age and other factors that matched the information provided by family members. They also learned that Guerra had been involved in a prior sexual offense, according to the report.

While speaking to another detective, he learned of a similar case involving the same church bus that was reported in August.

In that case, the St. George Police Department received a report that two juveniles had allegedly been molested five or six years before by a suspect who was later identified as Guerra, court records reveal.

Juan Ubaldo Guerra, 56, of St. George, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Nov. 19, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, ST. George News

Interviews were conducted with both girls at the Children’s Justice Center. One of the girls, who was 11 or 12 when the abuse reportedly took place, told officers that a man known only as “Ubaldo,” the suspect’s middle name, would inappropriately touch the child while traveling in a church van.

According to the report, the girl also told police the suspect would force the child to perform other sexual acts while riding to church, and said she was abused by the suspect “many times.”

She also disclosed that Guerra would threaten her, saying if she told anyone about the abuse, that he “would do the same thing to her sister,” a threat the suspect would allegedly use on both children, the report states.

The girl was also able to provide officers with detailed information on where the suspect lived at the time the abuse was taking place.

Both girls related similar incidents that allegedly took place in the back of the van, out of sight of the other passengers. The younger child, who was 5-6 years old at the time the incidents reportedly took place, also disclosed that they did not come forward about the abuse sooner to protect the other, and both said they were too afraid to tell anyone.

Detectives were able to confirm that Guerra was the suspect allegedly involved in both cases, but attempts to reach the suspect at his home where unsuccessful. Officers were later contacted by Guerra’s attorney who told police he would try to encourage the suspect to turn himself in.

After a few weeks of hearing nothing from the suspect, officers went to the job site where Guerra was reportedly working. There, they confirmed the man’s identity and placed him under arrest.

When officers told the suspect what he was being arrested for, Guerro denied ever touching anyone. At that point, officers advised Guerra they could not speak to him since he had retained an attorney.

The suspect was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility where he was being held without bail. Once the charges were filed, bail was set at $50,010. He remains in custody at this time.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!