Rachel Peach, one of three victims of former Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar youth pastor Malo Victor Monteiro, said she was “disappointed” to receive correspondence from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation informing that her abuser would be released from prison early due to COVID-19.
In 2018, Monteiro pled guilty to four counts of lewd acts on a child of 14-15 years of age with the defendant at least 10 years older, two counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object and one count of attempted copulation of a minor.
All the guilty charges are felonies and he was sentenced to five years in prison.
Monteiro was expected to be in prison until 2023, but California Gov. Gavin Newsom has pushed for “low-risk” prisoners to be released early to ease the burden on the prison system dealing with the virus outbreak.
“I was extremely disappointed,” Peach said of receiving the news. “I wish that Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state of California would take sexual assault more serious. Especially when these crimes are committed against children and in a church of all places. I don’t understand how releasing a rapist from prison is going to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I immediately contacted the prison to get more information as to why his release date has been changed. I was informed that Gov. Gavin Newsom granted certain inmates an early release due to COVID-19, and he was one of them. I asked if there was anything I could do to prevent that especially since his crimes were against children, and they told me no. The decision was already made.”
Peach, along with two other plaintiffs, are suing the Wildomar church for damages and she has since moved out of the state.
Peach said she is still angry about the length of sentencing handed down to Monteiro, who she said began sexually abusing her in 2007 when she was 15.
“Victor worked as a youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church for almost 20 years,” Peach said. “The entire time he was the youth pastor he was using his position to gain access to underage girls to satisfy his sick sexual desires. The original sentence of five years was already a slap in the face to his survivors. Now he will only have sat in a prison cell for only two years after pleading guilty to seven felonies of child sexual assault.”
Peach said she felt fairly confident that she will be safe when Monteiro is released Jan. 31 with a reported destination of Quail Valley.
“He would be violating his parole if he tries to contact me,” she said.
However, she said she isn’t confident he has been rehabilitated.
“Victor has not shown an ounce of remorse for the crimes he committed against myself and the many other teenage girls that he sexually assaulted,” Peach said. “He has instead made himself the victim and blames everyone else for his decisions. It’s hard to think he would not repeat those same bad decisions when he has not shown any remorse for the ones he was caught for.”
She said she has not had any conversations with anyone from the church since Monteiro’s arrest and subsequent sentencing.
“When myself and the other survivors came forward to the police about Victor, we were immediately made the enemy in their eyes,” Peach said. “I do not know their reaction to him getting out as they have not spoken a word to me since his crimes were made public and instead want to act like it never happened.”
Not long after Monteiro was arrested, Laverne Paul Fox was extradited from his home in Erie, Pennsylvania, and charged with molesting Kathy Durbin more than 30 years ago while serving as a youth pastor and bus driver at the same church.
Fox has pleaded not guilty to three charges – sexual penetration with a foreign object, lewd act on a child 14/15 years by a subject 10 years older and attempted oral copulation on a person under 16 years of age.
Fox was scheduled to appear at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta Friday, Jan. 8, for a preliminary hearing.
According to one of Monteiro’s victims, the legend of the alleged abuse involving Fox and Durbin was used by Monteiro to manipulate at least three young girls to keep his sexual relationships with them quiet.
She said the reason Monteiro knew so much about Fox was that Monteiro was married to Durbin’s sister.
Peach has been outspoken on social media about what she endured during her time at Faith Baptist and what Monteiro did to her.
“The reason why Victor and many other sexual predators are able to get away with their crimes for so long is because of silence,” she said. “The silence they place on their victims. The silence that is placed on survivors from the church. The silence that shame places on you. Sexual assault has always been a taboo subject that people feel uncomfortable talking about. But if we are not talking about it and bringing awareness and speaking out against this evil that has plagued our community then it will only continue to thrive in the silence.”
Peach said she will continue to work through the issues that stemmed from yearslong abuse by Monteiro and work with others who have gone through similar abuses.
“Healing is an everyday decision that I have to make,” she said. “And healing will look different for everyone. There will always be unexpected bumps in the road such as this but I cannot let it destroy the hard work that I have put in. I can continue to be an advocate against this atrocity but I can also still have a happy future and family and so can everybody else that has experienced sexual assault. There is hope and there is a community of other survivors that will be there to support you.”
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.