Police: Another alleged victim of choir director comes forward

By Daniel Silliman


Clayton County Police believe they've found a second victim of child molestation in the case of a Catholic church choir director.

Rafael Rojas-Lopez Garcia, a choir director at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Jonesboro, allegedly molested his landlord's 6-year-old son and recorded child pornography. The boy told detectives he saw pictures on the 40-year-old man's computer of other children in obscene poses.

The police department asked last week for other victims to come forward.

"A 5-year-old boy's come forward," said Sonja Sanchez, police department spokeswoman. "We've added three more charges."

Garcia was initially 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. This week, he also is facing additional charges of felony sexual battery, enticing a child for indecent purposes, and child molestation.

It was not immediately clear where Garcia may have met the 5-year-old. The investigation is ongoing.

Detectives said the man may have had access to children through the church, where he has volunteered for a number of years, or in the room he rented in Forest Park, where he gave private music lessons.

Garcia has denied the allegations against him, according to police. He said he had the 6-year-old in his room, but they never touched, and were watching a movie.

Police department detectives reported that the boy, using an anatomically correct doll and children's euphemisms, 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."

Federal charges for the allegation relating to child pornography also are under consideration. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's computer unit is doing a forensic analysis of the images on Garcia's laptop computer.

Officials at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta pledged their full cooperation with authorities, but said Garcia did not work with children.

Clayton County police continue to look for other possible victims. Anyone with information about Garcia and possible child molestation or pornography is being asked to call Detective Joanne Southerland at (770) 477-3655.