Since 1989 – when he founded the Pro-Family and Pro-Life Movement, at the young age of 22 – José Linares Cerón has claimed to lead an exemplary life. This evangelical pastor – a self-proclaimed defender of children – used to look forward to Peruvian Family Day, which is celebrated every second Sunday in September, to give advice on how to guide children with love and wisdom. “The child begins to understand who they are through the relationship with their parents,” he said.
Recently, one of his daughters – now 33-years-old – denounced what she had kept silent for years: that Linares Cerón systematically raped her and, as a result of that abuse, she gave birth at the age of 13, back in 2003.
“I want that monster to be caught,” she told the media, without revealing her face and full name. Her hell began at the age of seven, when she went to live with her father in an 11,000-square-foot old house in the Lima district of Surquillo, where Linares Cerón lived with his seven brothers. Aside from her, the only other female in the residence was her grandmother. Her father – who accumulated political power over time – forced her to sleep with him until she was 12-years-old. And it was precisely at that age – when she had already dropped out of school because no one took care of her – that her father got her pregnant. “I didn’t know what was forming inside me, because they never took me to a prenatal checkup,” she explains.
Her uncles also inflicted sexual violence on her. She has accused her father’s brother, Pablo Linares Cerón, of improper touching, while accusing Robert Linares Cerón – 11 years younger than her father – of having raped her for many years, “at any time, day or night.” In fact, when it was confirmed that she was pregnant, José Linares Cerón told her that the child was not his, but Robert’s, revealing that he knew about the collective abuse.
“When I held my son in my arms, my father manipulated me, forcing me to tell the police that my son belonged to a person who had left me. When I left the hospital, he took me to where he lived with my stepmother, who was his secretary. He made me sleep with my son on the floor,” she recalls.
In October of 2006, the ordeal continued: she gave birth to her second child, at the age of 16. In this case, she points out that the father was Robert. Both sons, she says, are now in the custody of Linares Cerón. “I never had a normal life. I didn’t go out, I didn’t study, I didn’t have children’s parties… everything was inside the house and the only social life I could have was with my father.”
Once, while defending her stepmother, Linares Cerón pushed her father down – he nearly suffocated her as a result. “I plucked up my courage and yelled at him with all my might that he had touched me, that he had raped me as a child. My father went crazy and grabbed me by the neck, pinning me against the wall. I managed to escape, asking for help from my uncle Pablo, who lived in another room. He also touched me when I was little.” This is what it means to live surrounded by horror.
Through his Pro-Family Pro-Life Movement, José Linares Cerón has long been interfering in Peruvian politics and inserting himself into the national debate. In 2013, he campaigned in favor of the unsuccessful recall election against Mayor Susana Villarán. In 2016, he founded the collective Con Mis Hijos No Te Metas (Don’t mess with my children), which emerged to stop comprehensive sexual education in schools, arguing that it was a “gender ideology.” He has also supported the three successive failed presidential candidacies of Keiko Fujimori, especially in 2021. After she was defeated, he joined the narrative alleging electoral fraud – charges that could never be verified. He has also organized marches by radical Evangelical groups.
On his website – where he appears carrying a girl – he defines himself as a “social fighter” who gives conferences around the world about “honesty, principles and values.” But the truth is that – on both his social media and in his conferences – he doesn’t spread much love. “The UN wants to open up a path to legalize pedophilia with the gender agenda,” “gay dictatorship is unacceptable,” or “the pro-abortion agenda seeks to make our youth rot” are some of his so-called messages of peace. On the international level, he supported Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign for the Republican Party in 2012, against Barack Obama.
His background doesn’t seem to be that of a blessed man who has followed the way of the Lord. As far back as 1991, he was accused by a member of his church of having abused and impregnated his sister, a minor. He has also been denounced for the alleged crimes of coercion, violation of privacy and acts against modesty. All cases have gone unpunished by Peru’s legal system.
Today, Pastor José Linares Cerón is missing. His social media is silent. Meanwhile, his daughter pleads for justice.
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