A pastor accused of sexual battery didn’t take too kindly to a reporter’s line of questioning this week, becoming so irate that he snatched her microphone and threw it — all while a news camera was rolling.
Pedro L. Custodio, known locally as “Pastor Pete,” runs Our Father’s House of Refuge Ministries, Inc., a shelter for homeless women in Eustis, Florida.
And three women who spent time there have come forward accusing the faith leader of sexual battery, with at least one of them claiming that he raped her, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
After Custodio, 44, was arrested this week and subsequently bonded out of jail Tuesday, he was faced with a litany of questions from WFTV-TV reporter Renee Stoll.
As she followed him asking about the allegations, he shielded his face and attempted to dismiss the claims made against him, at moments saying he had “no comment.” But when he could apparently no longer take Stoll’s incessant curiosity, he grabbed her microphone and threw it.
While the video is muffled, Stoll seemingly responded to the incident by proclaiming, “That’s assault.”
Watch the incident unfold below:
While the pastor, who is reportedly married with children, admitted to having sexual relations with the women, he said that they were consensual, the Christian Post reported.
But investigators with the Eustis Police Department told reporters that Custodio ”exploited [the women] by gaining their trust and then coercing or attempting to coerce them into having sexual relations with him.”
Some, though, are having a hard time believing the allegations.
“He’s just very active, very loving, very kind,” Beverly Smith, who has received groceries from the preacher for the past year, told WESH-TV. “Centered around a lot of Godly people.”
But an unnamed volunteer said she isn’t surprised by the allegations after observing Custodio’s actions.
The self-defined goal of Our Father’s House of Refuge Ministries, Inc. is to help women overcome life’s challenges.
“Our vision is to be a refuge to those in need, be it Spiritually, Physically, or Emotionally,” reads a description on the organization’s website.