Broward County

Youth pastor raped teen for a year, threatened to report immigration status, cops say

Luis Clarke’s Facebook profile shares the message “In your life, you have to choose people who add up and not subtract.”
Luis Clarke’s Facebook profile shares the message “In your life, you have to choose people who add up and not subtract.” Facebook

Youth pastor Luis Clarke spent a year forcing a 15-year-old into sex acts and nude poses, Pembroke Pines police said on Thursday. There was, police said, at least one unwilling witness: A boy said he saw some encounters because Clarke forced him to and yelled that the boy was “gay” for not wanting to watch rape.

The girl, now a woman, told investigators she endured Clarke’s degradations because he threatened to report her family’s illegal immigration status if she told anyone.

On Thursday, Clarke, 38, was arrested and charged with 20 counts of sexual battery on a victim between 12 and 18, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of directing a sexual performance by a child and one count of lewd and lascivious exhibition by an adult on a child under 15.

Clarke admitted to having sex with the girl twice, the arrest report said.

“It’s crime for an adult to coerce a child into this type of relationship in the first place,” said Pembroke Pines Capt. Al Xiques. “But this type of threat, using her immigration status, makes this crime so much more egregious.”

One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Police fear Clarke, who according to police was a part-time youth pastor at Abraza tu Sueño Church, has more victims.

“We are asking any parent or guardian whose child may have come into contact with the suspect through the church or otherwise, to please speak to them regarding this matter,” police said in a news release, adding that the church was located at 9626 Pines Blvd. in Pembroke Pines between 2014 and 2018.

Though the Abraza Tu Sueño Ministry is now in Hollywood at 7100 Pines Blvd., Clarke runs Embrace Your Dream Inc., Abraza Tu Sueño out of his 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in the 1300 block of Northwest 143rd Avenue. His social media accounts are littered with biblical psalms and uplifting messages in Spanish, including “Don’t settle where you are always strive to achieve more. “

On April, 3, the then-teenage victim, who is now an adult living out of state, told police that between August 2016 and February 2017, when she was 15 and 16, Clarke “persuaded her to engage in approximately 20 sexual acts.” She said he’d pick her up at her high school, take her to his Pembroke Pines home and have sex with her.

“These sexual acts took place in the defendant’s bedroom, living room area and once in the defendant’s vehicle at the clubhouse in his community,” an officer wrote in the arrest report. “The defendant would also instruct [the victim] to get undressed and he would photograph her with his iPad.”

During one incident, Clarke, who according to state records operated several companies having to do with home repair over the years, picked the victim and a 15-year-old boy, identified as CM, up and took them to his home, where he activated the alarm so they couldn’t leave.

“While in the living room area of the residence, the defendant instructed [the victim] to remove her clothes,” an officer wrote in the report. “[The victim complied with the defendant’s request because he was very angry and she feared for her and CM’s safety.”

He then raped her, police said. During the act, he yelled at CM to watch, according to the report.

“[The victim] stated that she never reported the sexual acts to her parents and went along with the defendant’s request because he threatened to report her and her family’s illegal status to authorities,” the officer wrote.

On April 17, CM was questioned by police and recounted the same story. He said he didn’t leave because he feared for his life.

On Aug. 31, 2018, Clarke had filed for divorce, and that went to mediation Tuesday. On Thursday, police confronted Clarke, as he left his home at 1355 NW 143rd Ave.

Sexual violence is a social and public health problem in the U.S. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey says nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.

After being read his rights, Clarke admitted to having two sexual encounters with the teen in his home. He denied ever forcing CM to watch, police said. He also told police that he had relations with the teen in other cities. Pembroke Pines police say additional charges are likely.

“It’s a heinous crime,” Xiques said. “This was very difficult for the victim, but because she was able to come forward, he is off our streets. Hopefully he will never be able to do this to anyone else again.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Pembroke Pines police at 954-431-2200 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).

Carli Teproff grew up in Northeast Miami-Dade and graduated from Florida International University in 2003. She became a full-time reporter for the Miami Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.

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