A polygamist who claimed to be an emissary of God and accused of serial abuse of his daughters has been returned to the United States and pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of molestation and rape.
Jose Luis Torres, 54, arrived in San Diego Wednesday afternoon from Mexico City, where he had been in a penitentiary awaiting extradition since his capture, Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said.
Mexican authorities took Torres into custody Jan. 8 after he was located at his mother’s home, Castillo said.
He was arraigned in San Diego Superior Court Thursday on 24 counts of various crimes of sexual abuse. Family members and victims watched the hearing from the gallery.
Torres faces more than 100 years to life in prison, said prosecutor Rachel Cano. He remains in county jail, where he is being held on $1 million bail. San Diego police Detective Dianna Webb described Torres as controlling and domineering and called it one of the worst molestation cases she has ever seen.
Torres, who had two wives in San Diego, is accused of molesting two biological daughters and one stepdaughter daily for most of their lives, Webb said. The girls are now adults. He claimed that he was the archangel Gabriel who had been sent by God and that he was entitled to have sex with the girls in order to fulfill his sexual needs and pass along his seed, Webb said.
The victims told police the molestations began in the late 1980s and ended in 2003. It came to light after one of the victims mentioned it to detectives while talking about an unrelated matter, Webb said. The rest of the family then came forward.
“Whatever mental power he had over them, he had everyone convinced not to disclose,” Webb told The San Diego Union-Tribune last year.
Torres, who rebuilt cars for a living, mainly lived off his wives’ salaries while he stayed home and took care of the children. He also wrote a book that detailed his religious beliefs and was published in Spanish.