Church pastor rejects plea deal on sex abuse charges

Church pastor rejects plea deal on sex abuse charges

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A Cleveland pastor charged with abusing young girls is demanding a trial, which means his victims could have to testify about their abuse. Despite urging to get the case settled, the pastor refused on Tuesday.

Ubaldo Ocasio was the pastor of a storefront church on Clark Avenue, who used the power of the pulpit in the most perverse way, targeting his young followers.

He has been indicted three times for having sexual contact, including rape with girls 10, 12, 14, and 15 years old. He was indicted three times because as the case unfolded, new victims came forward, which meant additional charges. He now faces 30 in all. Prosecutors charge the abuse began with him grooming the youngest victims, first on a church bus, then in the basement, and so on.

If convicted of all charges, Ocasio faces 205 years to life in prison.

In order to avoid the victims having to testify, prosecutors offered him a deal.

"We are prepared at this time, however, to offer him a plea deal to account for each victim in this case," prosecutors told Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold.

But Ocasio decided to put himself first, and not spare anyone anything.

"He's been alerted to the fact that in the event he receives a life sentence, that he has a very strong likelihood of actually serving life," said Ocasio's attorney, Jaye Schlachet.

Ocasio stood firm rejecting the deal. Judge Strickland Saffold made sure he understood the gamble he was taking.

"Your exposure is 200 years to life," the judge told him.

"Yes, your honor," he responded.

The trial is expected to take all week. It is unclear if Ocasio will take the stand in his own defense.

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