FAIRFIELD — The former longtime choir director for the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church was found guilty Wednesday of 25 felony counts of performing lewd acts on a child.
After the jury verdicts, Jim Manuel, who had been out of jail on $120,000 bail throughout his jury trial and since his 2012 arrest, was taken into custody.
During Manuel’s trial, the victim testified she was 15 and a member in Manuel’s church choir group in the summer of 2001 when Manuel began flirting with her and kissed her for the first time one evening at the church. The girl would see Manuel at the church on Sunday mornings, at Thursday night choir practices and at his Fairfield home two or three times a week under the guise of taking piano lessons.
The secret relationship escalated sexually and also included dates for dinners or movies. The victim testified they had sex at the Dover Avenue church and that Manuel also videotaped some of their sexual activities.
The illicit relationship ended in 2005 when the victim, then 19, found out Manuel had been married for three years.
The victim, now 24, testified she went to police in 2012 after she discovered one of her friends had started engaging in phone sex with Manuel.
Judge R. Michael Smith ordered Manuel to return to court Aug. 12 for sentencing.
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