Salvation Army Youth Minister Accused Of Raping 16-Year-Old Girl

EL PASO, Texas - A 29-year-old Salvation Army youth minister accused of raping a 16-year-old girl he met in the program he ran said she was probably hallucinating or having a nightmare before he was arrested Friday.

According to a police report, the girl told police she felt pain in her vaginal area when she woke up in Luis Leonel Valdez's bedroom without pants or underwear and with her blouse pulled up. She said Valdez was getting dressed and when he walked into the kitchen, she left running and called police. During the 911 call, records show, the girl was crying and "speaking hysterically."

Valdez was the Salvation Army officer responsible for the El Paso Temple Salvation Army Church. In a statement, the Salvation Army said it does not tolerate sexual misconduct or improprieties of any kind.

"The Salvation Army has in place a comprehensive child protection program, 'Safe From Harm,' that strives to maintain a safe environment for children by using stringent screening requirements for all officers, staff and volunteers, training to identify risk factors that may lead to accident or injury and implementing procedures for promptly responding to and reporting incidents," a spokeswoman wrote in a news release.

The girl told police the two were at a Salvation Army warehouse either delivering of dropping off toys last December before the two picked up breakfast at McDonald's and went to eat at his house. She said the coffee tasted weird and stopped drinking it, but fell asleep while watching television. She also said that in the past, Valdez had bought he thong underwear.

The girl was taken to Sierra Medical Center, where it was determined she had been raped. Records show semen detected on her body was submitted as evidence.

Valdez was arrested Friday evening at his home in the 500 block of East Road without incident. He reportedly told police he was with the girl in a Salvation Army vehicle, but denied the allegations, saying the girl was in the living room and was probably having hallucinations or a nightmare when she woke up.

Police records show his DNA matched the DNA taken during the Sexual Assault Exam. Valdez was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.

Investigators believe that there could be other victims and are asking anyone who might have been a victim to call investigators from Crimes Against Children at 915-838-0049.

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