(WASHINGTON) - The pastor of Church on the Way, in Washington, has pleaded guilty to two felony counts of child solicitations.
According to Andrea McCann of the Washington Times-Herald, 53-year-old Jeff Jones will be sentenced at 2:30 p.m. on October 17th. There's no record of Jones being arrested and processed at the Daviess County Security Center, and the Daviess County Prosecutor's Office refused comment on the reason.
According to the probable cause affidavit in the case, Jones took a 14-year-old female "under his wing" about three years ago, calling himself her "spiritual father."
"By definition, spiritual father means a religious teacher or guide, especially one instrumental in leading a soul to God," the affidavit states.
They had known each other since the girl was 12.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Jones began to take the girl places where they could pray together alone, but her parents decided that was inappropriate and stopped it. Then the pastor began to visit the girl's residence on a specific night of the week. When he'd leave, the girl walked him out, and some encounters reportedly took place at those times.
About six months ago, the girl's parents noticed the number of texts on her phone bill had gone up dramatically. They noticed late-night and early-morning texts between the pastor and their daughter. Then on April 23, they saw intimate text messages between the two and questioned their daughter about the relationship.
The girl told her parents and police that Jones first kissed her and touched her inappropriately in April 2010, in a barn at his parents' home. He told her then about "dreams he had from the Lord" in which they were intimate.
The teen recalled the first time he touched her was just prior to her 16th birthday. After she turned 16, he told her God spoke to him in dreams about the two of them being married someday. He also told her about dreams of them being alone together and having sexual intercourse.
When Jones was questioned, he stated he'd been pastor of Church on the Way since 1995 and had known the girl's family since they began attending services there four or five years ago. He says his relationship with the girl had started with her looking to him for guidance and it changed when they began sending the explicit texts to each other.
He told investigators that he confessed April 29 to the church congregation that he'd sinned, but didn't explain what he'd done. He also told them he was going to take a step back as pastor and had hopes of coming back to the pastor position at the church, located at 700 West VanTrees St. someday.
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