The youth group leader of a small Long Island church has pleaded not guilty to charges he raped an unidentified 12-year-old girl, according to police and prosecutors.
Juan Carlos Amaya, 30, was ordered held on $250,000 bail at his arraignment in a Suffolk County court in Central Islip.
Outside court, Amaya's cousin and other supporters wept and said the charges were baseless.
"It's just not true," said Glenda Castillo, who also worked with the youth group.
Amaya met the victim in the youth group at Iglesia Evangelica Refugio De Salvacion church in Patchogue and became her mentor, said police.
"She would speak to him about daily life and the problems she was having,"said Detective Sgt. Dan Molloy of the Suffolk police department.
Last May, Amaya lured the girl to his Bellport home, police said, and raped her.
"He gained her faith and trust and took advantage of her," Molloy said.
Amaya is an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, wanted for deportation before this alleged rape, according to police. He has no prior criminal record.
Police are asking other potential victims to come forward.
Amaya shared a home with several others, including Freddie Maldonado and his two small children.
"He was a good guy," Maldonado said of Amaya, and the father of two insisted he never feared for his children's safety around Amaya.