A 28-year-old Gainesville church volunteer was arrested in Lakeland, Florida, on July 6, 2023, for inappropriately touching multiple children who attended an overnight camp at a Gainesville church two years ago. The Gainesville Police Department (GPD) said that Gabriel Hemenez was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of attempted sexual battery of a minor.
According to media reports, the Gainesville Police Special Victims Unit (SVU) told reporters that in February of 2023, they began investigating a sexual abuse report from an incident that occurred in July 2020 at Ignite Life Center, a church on 14th Avenue in Gainesville. Hemenez worked as a member of and volunteered at the church from 2018 until 2023. Detectives learned of several minors who were abused during a month-long overnight camp.
One of the alleged victims reported that while attending the Ignite Youth Internship in July of 2021, Gabriel Hemenez, 28, sexually abused him. Hemenez was a volunteer and church member of Ignite Life Center who interacted with minors regularly from 2018 to 2023, police said.
According to GPD, Hemenez confessed to inappropriately touching three minors and one adult while attending and volunteering at the Ignite Life Center’s Youth Internship in July of 2021, a month-long overnight camp.
Cases like this are every parent’s worst nightmare, and incidents such as this are a reminder that even in locations where children should be safe — such as a church or youth group — there are people who may pose a threat of harm to children. As a result, we must be vigilant in the supervision and protection of our children at all times. This is also an example of a brave child who had the wisdom to know the adult’s actions were inappropriate and had the courage to report this misconduct to family and then law enforcement. We commend this child for having the courage to come forward to law enforcement, and if there are any other children who may have been harmed, we encourage them to come forward.
Horowitz Law represents children who were sexually abused at a camp, school, daycare, church event, or athletic league. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped, or sexually molested by a priest, camp leader, youth coach, team administrator, or sports team member, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected] for a free consultation.