Judge Rejects Plea Deal For Casper Pastor Accused Of Domestic Violence
A Natrona County District Court judge on Tuesday rejected a plea agreement in the case of a Casper pastor accused of violently battering a woman over the course of more than a decade.
Raul Adam Sanchez was a pastor at a Casper church at the time of the alleged incident.
Casper police arrested Sanchez in August on seven counts of aggravated assault, two counts of strangulation of a household member and one count of domestic battery. He entered a no contest plea to a single count of strangulation of a household member in February. As part of that proposed plea, prosecutors agreed to ask for no more than a five-year suspended prison sentence and dropped most of the original charges.
Assistant Natrona County District Attorney Ava Bell said prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to reach out to the alleged victim in the case prior to the initial plea agreement. However, it wasn't until after the agreement was reached that the woman reached out to prosecutors to inform them she didn't agree with the plea deal.
During Tuesday's hearing, Natrona County District Court judge Kerri M. Johnson said after she reviewed the case prior to the sentencing hearing, she had "significant" reservations of the plea agreement.
Since Johnson denied the plea agreement, the case is scheduled to go to trial on all of the originally charged counts in October.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Sanchez "routinely" punched and kicked the victim. The victim told Casper police that one of Sanchez's "favorite" things to do was grab her by the hair when they were in a vehicle and slam her head against a car window.
At the time of Sanchez's arrest, he was a pastor at Living Rock Foursquare Church in Casper. He often invoked God when he beat the victim, the affidavit says.
The affidavit describes an undated incident in which Sanchez allegedly made the victim strip naked in his office at NOWCAP. The victim said that she did so out of fear that Sanchez would beat her.
Bell said, since his no contest plea, Sanchez has not taken responsibility for his actions.
And Johnson further pointed out that, during a standard pre-sentence investigation, Sanchez said he only pleaded no contest to take the deal.
At the time of the incident, NOWCAP Executive Director Renate Pullen declined to confirm Sanchez's employment status per the advice of the company's attorney. His photo and contact information was removed from the NOWCAP website within hours of his arrest being made public.
If he's convicted of all charges, Sanchez could face decades behind bars.
This story will be updated.