Hesperia pastor is arrested, accused of sexually abusing foster children

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A Hesperia pastor is in police custody following an investigation into allegations he sexually abused two minors under his care as a foster parent.

Jose Manuel Lozano is awaiting trial at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto, where he is being held in lieu of $5-million bail. Investigators described his alleged victims as girls ages 16 and 10.

Jose Manuel Lozano

(Hesperia Police Department)

The 54-year-old Hesperia resident led bilingual services for a predominately Latino and Spanish-speaking congregation at Zion Assembly Church of God Hesperia, an affiliate of Zion Assembly Church of God International, headquartered in Tennessee. A representative from the latter said in an interview that the organization condemns Lozano’s “ungodliness” and that he was removed from office March 15, when the allegations came to light. He was arrested last week.

Pastors at neighboring churches said they were shocked and dismayed upon hearing of Lozano’s arrest.

“It just reminds us of all the ways we have systems to protect children,” said Tom Beasley, pastor at Hesperia Community Church. He said he did not know Lozano personally, nor did any of his congregants.

“We have to do our due diligence,” Beasley said of his role as a pastor. “It is a broken world we live in.”

Lewis Busch, pastor of nearby Zion Lutheran Church and School, said he felt “profound sadness” at hearing about the arrest. He said he also felt concern for young people and anxiety about the potential ramifications for ministry work.

“We’re about helping people and healing people,” Busch said. He worries that Lozano’s arrest has further sullied the reputation of clergy.

Zion Assembly Church of God Hesperia is holding services in Lozano’s absence with interim pastor Henry Rodriguez in his place. Rodriguez did not respond to The Times’ request for comment, and the church’s Instagram and Facebook pages have been taken down.

Since 2018, Lozano’s congregation had been renting space from Sovereign Way Christian Church, according to that church’s pastor, Stephen Feinstein. He said he knew Zion Assembly Church of God Hesperia as a good tenant that communicated well. The news “came as such a shock,” he said.

He said the Sovereign Way Christian Church campus has security cameras in nearly every room, but law enforcement hasn’t asked for any video.

“Sexual abuse is a problem in every institutional setting,” Feinstein said.

Local authorities believe Lozano may have targeted other victims, and officials are asking anyone with information to contact San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Frankie Zavala with the Hesperia station at (760) 947-1500 or to call an anonymous tip line at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463).

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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