By W.M. Smith, Associated PressWASHINGTON — A former high school football coach in rural Virginia who led the Manti T. Te’O Celebration Church in a town in the Eastern Shore region of the state was convicted Thursday of child abuse and is serving a life sentence.
The case against Manti De La Torre, 49, drew national attention in the wake of the conviction of his son, who was convicted of molesting a boy in a car in the 1970s.
De La Torres was in his early 50s when the abuse happened, and authorities said he was 14 when he sexually abused the boy in 1978.
Prosecutors said De La Toro and his wife, Annabelle, were members of a church in the town of Manti, and the boy’s mother, Annora Manti-Davis, had been a church member in the early 1970s, and was a regular at the church.
The couple divorced in 1993.
Prosecutors said the boy told the girl that she had been molested.
The prosecution also said that after the boy began seeing the man in the car, De LaTorres called the police and told them that the boy was telling him the story, according to court documents.
The girl was then taken to a hospital and then to a home where she told investigators that she and De LaTerres had sex, prosecutors said.
The boy’s father, David De LaRosa, told the Associated Press that the family did not want to pursue criminal charges against De LaRoos.
He said that his son did not abuse the boy and had told him the truth about the abuse.
He also said the church did not care about the boy.
The trial of the former Manti football coach who led an ancient Catholic church was held in the small town of Hagerstown, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Washington.
He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington said it would appeal the decision.