California megachurch leader charged with murder of 11-year-old girl

A Southern California woman and her parents were arrested on allegations of child molestation in the death of an 11-year-old girl earlier this year, authorities said. The woman was a high-profile member of a megachurch in San Diego.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department reported Tuesday that 49-year-old Leticia McCormack and her parents — 75-year-old Stanley Tom and 70-year-old Adella Tom — were arrested in the August death of 11-year-old Arabella McCormack.

Leticia McCormack and Stanley Tom were both charged with one count of murder and three counts of torture and willful cruelty to a child, the sheriff’s department said. Adella Tom has been charged with torture and willful cruelty to a child.

All three will plead not guilty at their first court hearing on Wednesday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Arabella had two sisters, ages six and seven, who have since been placed with foster families, the sheriff’s department said.

Arabella’s biological mother told UT that McCormack and her husband became foster parents to Arabella and her two younger sisters in 2017 and later adopted all three.

In a criminal complaint, prosecutors accused McCormack and her parents of abusing and torturing Arabella and her two sisters for five and a half years, UT reports.

The situation unfolded in the early hours of Aug. 30 when deputies responded to a call from a child in need at a home in the Spring Valley area of ​​San Diego County, the sheriff’s department said. The child, Arabella, was taken to a local hospital where she later died.

During an investigation, detectives suspected signs of possible child abuse, the sheriff’s department reported, and when the deputies contacted Arabella’s adoptive father, Brian McCormack, he committed suicide in her presence. Brian McCormack was a border patrol agent, the UT reports.

Leticia McCormack, meanwhile, was a high-profile member of the Rock Church San Diego, which has multiple locations across San Diego County. In a statement to CBS News on Thursday, the church said McCormack was never a pastor at the Rock Church but was “ordained as an elder in another church under the Assemblies of God denomination.”

According to the church, ordained elders work on a voluntary basis with a variety of tasks, but still have a “limited scope”. The church said her ordination was “previously suspended and the decision made to revoke it.”

The church added that it “no longer has any official relationship with Leticia.”

“We have received word that Leticia and her parents have been arrested as a result of the sheriff’s department investigation,” the church said in its statement. “We continue to mourn the loss of Arabella and her sisters. We are so sorry that her family and friends are going through this unimaginable loss and pain.”

First published on November 10, 2022 / 8:44 p.m

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