SAN FERNANDO – The girl began visiting her church pastor with questions about her eternal salvation. The counseling sessions would last more than an hour after Sunday church and would end with the pastor offering to hug the crying girl. “He would sit on a chair in the corner of the room and have me sit on his lap with my thighs around him,” the young woman, now 18, testified Tuesday in San Fernando Superior Court. For the following five years ending in August, Joseph Gary Torres, 46, gradually increased their contact until sodomy and oral copulation were common, she testified during the first day of Torres’ preliminary hearing. “I was always afraid to say no because I thought he would think I don’t trust him and that he wasn’t my friend anymore,” she said. “You don’t know if the lap-sitting hug happened before you were 14 – right?” Burk asked. The young woman sat blankly for about 10 seconds until Giss interjected. “At any time before you were 14, were you touched in a manner that you now believe was inappropriate, had sexual overtones?” Giss said. “I don’t remember what happened, how much happened. I was 14,” the witness responded. “In your opinion,” Giss continued, “were you touched three or more times inappropriately before you were 14?” “I don’t think so,” she said. The sisters were home-schooled and were not taught about sex. “I didn’t know what a penis was,” the older sister, a bespectacled young woman with long brown hair pulled in a ponytail, testified. She trusted Torres, not just as a pastor but as a friend. He warned her that guys would try to deceive her into sleeping with them, she said, and her goal was to remain a virgin – to preserve that gift for her husband. She believed she had remained sexually pure, she testified, because she and Torres never had intercourse, and he told her anal sex and oral sex didn’t count. The reason for the sex acts, Torres told her, was to help “lower his blood pressure.” [email protected] (818) 713-3634160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’The former pastor of Iglesia Bautista Reforma in Sunland has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of child molestation, including continuous sexual abuse, oral copulation and sodomy. The hearing will continue Thursday with testimony from the opening witness’ younger sister, who told police Torres began abusing her last year when she was 14. When the hearing ends, Judge Harvey Giss will decide if there is enough evidence to go to trial. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 34 years in prison. Torres, a father of three, was relieved of his pastoral duties at the Reformed Baptist church shortly before his arrest because of the discovery of an affair he was having with an adult woman and accusations of stealing money from his church. His wife has left him. Lewd acts on a child under 14 account for 16 years of Torres’ possible sentence, and during cross-examination, defense attorney Kristine M. Burk tried to establish that the witness wasn’t sure if any sexual contact occurred before she was 14.