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Name: People v. Bautista
Case #: H030458
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/03/2008

Under Penal Code section 289, subdivision (d)(4) (penetration based on the perpetrator’s fraudulent representation that the penetration served a professional purpose), “professional purpose” is broadly defined and not limited to whether the perpetrator is licensed or paid. Appellant, an immigration attorney, established a church with an approximate 40 to 50 person congregation. Appellant was the pastor and leader of the church but was not paid or licensed as a clergy member. He closely monitored his parishoner’s lives, advising parents how to raise their children. Following a service, the 16-year-old victim confided to appellant that she had “done something with a guy.” In a back room, appellant put his fingers inside her vagina to “determine if she was still a virgin.” Appellant argued that the element of “unconscious nature of the act” could not be satisfied as he was an unlicensed and unpaid pastor and, as such, could not have a purported professional purpose. The court disagreed and, applying rules of statutory construction, found that “professional purpose” is to be broadly defined to reach the legislative intent of the statue. The nature of the perpetrator’s employment is less important that the appearance of authority. The court also rejected appellant’s claim that his right to the free exercise of religion was violated by the admission of testimony regarding his religious beliefs, finding that if the evidence is relevant to the issues being tried, its use does not violate the First Amendment.