A spiritual counselor who teaches meditation and spiritual healing to people with mental illness has been convicted of sexual assault and harassment for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
The prosecution of the former spiritual advisor, Dr. John J. Zavala, had been hampered by a lack of witnesses, and the fact that there was no evidence that the two met on a regular basis, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.
Zavala is the founder of a spiritual counseling service called “spiritual Medicine” and an online spiritual counseling website called “The Life Cure,” according to his LinkedIn profile.
Zawala was charged in July with eight counts of sexual misconduct, eight counts each of sexual battery, sodomy and sexual battery with a minor.
He was convicted last month on two counts of sodomy, two counts each for battery on a child and two counts for sexual battery.
He is due back in court next month for sentencing.
The Inquireer reported that a witness had told investigators that Zavalsa, a registered sex offender, had sent a photo of the victim’s genitals to him as part of a “spirituality retreat.”
The witness told investigators he believed that Zawalsa had asked the teen to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a priest.
He said that the sexual encounters were consensual.
Zawalsas attorneys declined to comment to the Inquirener.