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Former pastor to stand trial on molest charges

KIMBERLY EPLER
Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO ---- A Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered a former Solana Beach pastor to stand trial on 30 charges related to the molestation of two brothers whose divorced parents had sought him out to counsel one of the boys.

Michael Skoor, 55, faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts, including child molestation, burglary and indecent exposure. Bail remains set at $2 million.

Skoor, who was a pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church for 12 years, is accused of molesting the two brothers between October 2000 and April 2001. At the time, the boys were 9 and 11. The acts allegedly took place in the boys' bedroom in their Encinitas home, Skoor's bedroom, an office at the church and in Skoor's car.

At a previous court hearing, Skoor's attorney, William F. Nimmo, said his client has admitted to having an "inappropriate sexual relationship" with the older boy, but adamantly denies having molested the younger child.

The older brother, now 12, testified in court Wednesday that Skoor began counseling him in late 1998 when he was having fears about his parents dying. He said their relationship developed into a friendship during the counseling sessions and Skoor began telling him that he had a gift called "the sight" that allowed him to "see what people were feeling if something was wrong."

Skoor then began taking him on outings and bought him video games and a chess board, he testified.

The boy said Skoor first touched him in a way that made him "uncomfortable" during a camping trip in October 2000. Before that, Skoor had shown him pictures of naked women, the boy testified.

The boy kept one hand cupped over the left side of his face to avoid looking at Skoor. His father sat near the witness stand with his hands clasped under his chin, at times shooting glance over at Skoor, as the boy testified.

The boy testified he didn't tell his parents or anyone else about the way Skoor touched him because he was told they would both get in trouble.

"I was reassured that if I told I would be in trouble and he would be in trouble and I didn't want either of us to be in trouble," the boy said.

Sheriff's Detective Peggy Vistercil testified that the younger brother told her that Skoor molested him in his car and at the alleged victim's home during the same time period.

Vistercil said she spoke to the boy, now 10, after the child's mother told her that the child had disclosed the molestations with her.

A search of Skoor's home and work computers turned up hundreds of pornographic material, Vistercil testified. Skoor, who is married with two children, turned himself into authorities Oct. 26, about a week after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

He is due back in court Feb. 6.

City News Service contributed to this report. Contact staff writer Kimberly Epler at (760) 739-6644 or kepler@nctimes.com.

1/24/02

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