Long Beach priest found to have over 600 images of child sexual abuse, prosecutors say

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Oxnard on May 21, 2019.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Oxnard. (Jeremy Childs / Los Angeles Times)

A Catholic priest in Long Beach was arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography after a months-long investigation, according to the Ventura County district attorney's office.

Rodolfo Martinez-Guevara, 38, of Long Beach was most recently a minister with the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit religious order, according to a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He had previously served as a transitional deacon and newly ordained priest with Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Oxnard from July 2021 through September 2022, the spokesman said.

Martinez-Guevara first came under scrutiny after several anonymous reports were made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A separate investigation was launched in April by the Ventura County Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.

The investigations found Martinez-Guevara had more than 600 images of child sex abuse, prosecutors say, including images and videos of victims under the age of 12.

“As a priest, the defendant is in a position of tremendous power, authority and trust,” Ventura County Dist. Atty. Erik Nasarenko said in a statement. “The alleged crimes deeply violate that trust and involve a disturbing number of sexual images of young boys."

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In a statement, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Martinez-Guevara had been removed from ministry by the archdiocese and his religious order.

"The Archdiocese stands against any sexual misconduct and is resolute in our support for victim-survivors of any misconduct," the statement read.

Pedro Arteaga, provincial superior for Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, said in a letter to congregants that the organization is cooperating with law enforcement and has launched its own internal investigation.

"Let us be united in prayer for the children who are victims of abuse, their families, and the healing of our community," the letter concluded.

Martinez-Guevara is set to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday in Ventura County Superior Court. Arrested Wednesday, he remains in custody at Ventura County jail in lieu of $750,000 bail.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.