Choir director had photos of other children

By Daniel Silliman


An alleged victim of child molestation and child pornography told police there were others like him, according to a detective.

The 6-year-old Riverdale boy said Rafael Rojas-Lopez Garcia, a Catholic church choir director, touched him inappropriately while taking pictures, Clayton County police said. The boy told police he'd seen pictures of other children in obscene poses, on the man's laptop computer, according to arrest warrant affidavits filed by Detective Joanne Southerland.

Police have seized the computer, turning it over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a forensic analysis. Gracia could also face charges in federal court, where the sentence for the production of child pornography is 25 years to life in prison.

Southerland also is looking for the other alleged victims. Southerland noted in the arrest warrant that "this case is still under investigation. There will be further investigation into the identity of the other children alleged to be involved."

The police department has asked the public to come forward with information.

Garcia, 40, was the choir director for the Spanish-language mass at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Jonesboro, and he also taught private keyboard lessons. Officials at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta said they are "confident he didn't have access to children at the church," and they are "cooperating with police."

Garcia reportedly rented a room for the last two years from the family of his alleged victim. When Clayton County police went into the man's bedroom, they found it "furnished with a large variety of electronic equipment," including two digital cameras, a web cam and a variety of tripods.

Garcia met the family through an ad posted at a Hispanic grocery store, the boy's mother told police, and had become "part of the family."

Police said Garcia was the alleged victim's baby-sitter on Aug. 4, when the mother came home and found the man and child locked in the man's room. When the woman asked her son what they were doing in there, the child allegedly said they were naked and kissing.

Garcia reportedly told the police nothing happened, he never touched the child, and they were watching a movie.

Southerland's reports say the boy, using an anatomically correct doll and euphemisms like "wee wee" and "kissing," accused Garcia of "engaging in acts of child molestation and felony sexual battery for the purposes of creating, producing, and manufacturing child pornographic images of the acts on five separate occasions.

Garcia was charged with five counts of child molestation; five counts of sexual exploitation of children; five counts of felony sexual battery, and five counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes.

Garcia is currently being held in the Clayton County Jail without bond. He is scheduled to appear in magistrate court on Aug. 25, for a probable cause hearing.