Montecito Church Employee Pleads Guilty to False Imprisonment

Carlos Ruano Will Receive Time Served, But Has Been Placed On Immigration Hold

Friday, October 18, 2013
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Carlos Ruano, a Montecito church employee on trial last month for allegedly molesting his step-granddaughter, pleaded guilty Friday to felony false imprisonment. His trial had ended in a hung jury.

Based on the evidence and the wishes of the girl and her family, the District Attorney’s Office said it opted for the new false imprisonment charge — meaning that Ruano didn’t allow the girl, seven years old at the time, to move during the incident — instead of starting the process of a retrial. As part of his sentence, Ruano will receive credit for time served — 397 days in Santa Barbara County Jail, said Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Ladinig, who handled the case — so will not face any additional jail time. He will also not have to register as a sex offender.

Carlos Ruano
Click to enlarge photo


Carlos Ruano

However, Ruano is currently under an Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) hold at the jail, and ICE agents will have two days after the last day of Ruano’s sentence to pick him up, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, Kelly Hoover. That 48-hour window will begin November 15 when Ruano is formally sentenced. Ruano was technically released on his own recognizance following his plea, said his attorney, Jeremy Lessem, but is being held because of his immigration status. Pending any action by ICE, Ruano, 67, faces three years of felony probation and will be prohibited from contacting the victim and her family.

“I would like to commend the Santa Barbara Police Department for their hard work on this case, and I also note the bravery and perseverance of the child victim and her family throughout the process,” Ladinig said. Lessem added that Ruano “made the decision he felt was the right decision for him to make, for him and his family.”

Ruano, who worked as a sexton at All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church for more than seven years, was originally charged with felony molestation for a 2012 incident with his step-granddaughter at his home. He would later tell detectives that he was babysitting three kids, including his step-granddaughter, when the girl’s brother jumped on her, injuring her stomach. Ruano said he rubbed ointment on her stomach and may have accidentally touched her underwear near her vagina.

The girl said he went further than that, rubbing beneath her underwear, licking her breast, and exposing his penis. Ruano countered that the girl’s mother coerced her into making those accusations. Throughout the trial, which resulted in a 9-3 hung jury in favor of guilt, Ruano received support from the church and members of its congregation. If he had been convicted of the original charge, he would have faced up to eight years in prison, Ladinig said.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Dear Liz,
I am appalled at the language you used in your article regarding the Montecito Church employee. Giving specific descriptions such as those in your article is akin to you promoting pornography. There is no reason in the world you should have mentioned those specifics, whether they are true or not.
Just take a minute and read them for yourself:
"Ruano said he rubbed ointment on her stomach and may have accidentally touched her underwear near her vagina."
"The girl said he went further than that, rubbing beneath her underwear, licking her breast, and exposing his penis".
Now, do you see how distasteful and inappropriate your words were?
Clean it up girl or get a job with Larry Flynt!

stevethompson (anonymous profile)
October 19, 2013 at 6:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

First of all, Hoffman is not a "girl", she's a grown woman. (That's a reasonable assumption, no?) Second, there is a difference between reporting the news (as Hoffman did) and pornography. What is disturbing is not the details of the report, but your definition of "pornography". Perhaps as a compromise the article links might say "Warning: Graphic language" or something similar.

While I'm no fan of political correctness nor the feminist movement as a whole, "clean it up girl", shows a lot of sexism and issues with women on your part.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 19, 2013 at 6:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

While reading that account, I, for one, was thinking in terms of clinical anatomy, not arousal. Right? Does this stevethompson need weekly counseling? If he stays clean in spite of any "repetition compulsion," then bravo stevethompson!

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
October 20, 2013 at 7:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

And stevethompson called the author a "girl".... Is that just passe sexism, or did he desire to cast her as a child for personal sexual reasons?

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
October 20, 2013 at 8:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

But who knows... maybe stevethompson is just savvy about the potential for deviant arousal scattered out there in society, but then why didn't he say any words to that effect? It's easy to interpret his comment as presupposing that crime can be seen as porn, with zero exertion. Seems like a jump from one track to another, to me, like criticizing a cannibal feast as overcooked.

Or is sloppiness of communication the more likely explanation? Please, stevethompson, respond. (I messaged him.)

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
October 20, 2013 at 1:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

He may have said words to that effect by repeating words that he defined as "promoting pornography" with the knowledge that women would read his comment - is this voyeurism or a comment on the article?

14noscams (anonymous profile)
October 20, 2013 at 3:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Adonis_Tate has the nerve to say what I was thinking.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 20, 2013 at 10:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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