Despite child sex assault accusations, friend of Brownwood pastor defends him
BROWNWOOD, Texas —
Friends of a Brownwood pastor accused of sexually assaulting several young girls said that they are shocked by his arrest, but one of his friends told KTXS News that he has his full support.
Fernando Hernandez, 50, of Brownwood, was arrested on Friday in Coleman on charges of indecency with a child and continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children, according to court documents.
Arrest warrants filed by Texas Ranger Jason Shea detail a timeline of allegations made against Hernandez for inappropriately touching young girls.
The Brownwood Police Department first received a report of sexual assault in November of 2016 when the sister of a victim came forward identifying Hernandez as a suspect.
Rudy Cantu said on Tuesday that he could not believe the arrest when he first saw it on his Facebook timeline and that the mugshot that he saw was not of the man that he knew and trusted.
"Right now, it's an accusation," Cantu said. "We all fall short of the glory of God."
Cantu said that he has known Hernandez for the past decade and that they met through Hernandez's ministry.
Hernandez is the founder and pastor of the It's A Challenge Church, which is located in a lot along Highway 377 near Brownwood's 3M plant.
Cantu was the only person out of several that KTXS News spoke to who would speak on the record about Hernandez.
The other individuals cited the sensitivity behind the issue as their reason to not speak with KTXS News, but all of them expressed shock at Hernandez's arrest.
Some of the allegations stated in Hernandez's arrest warrant claimed that he inappropriately touched a 7-year-old girl several times while his wife was nearby.
Hernandez's wife acknowledged to investigators last week that since he has been accused of sexual assault, he is not allowed to be alone with children, according to court documents.
Hernandez denied to investigators any accusations of sexual assault when he was questioned and he ignored several requests made by KTXS News on Tuesday for comment.
Cantu said that he would still support Hernandez even if the accusations against him turned out to be true.
"It really hurts me, but I'm not going to judge the guy," Hernandez said. "Just because we serve God doesn't mean that we're perfect, if he did do it."
Despite the strong accusations against Hernandez, Cantu said that the pastor is a man of God.