The youth pastor at a Cottonwood church indicted by a Yavapai County grand jury Friday, Aug. 27, is a citizen of New Zealand whose visa was put on hold by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week.
The 43-year-old suspect was indicted on 20 counts, including five counts of sexual conduct with a minor, 11 counts of sexual abuse and four counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation, according to court records.
The suspect remained at Yavapai County Detention Center in Camp Verde on Aug. 20 on $250,000 bond, increased from the original bond amount of $50,000 imposed after his arrest Aug. 20. The suspect’s case was transferred from Verde Valley Justice Court to Superior Court on Aug. 25.
The suspect was pastor for children at Emmanuel Fellowship Church, 1580 Fir St., which advertises a youth meeting at 6 p.m. and a meeting at 7 p.m. every Wednesday, according to ChurchAngel.com, a website where area Christian churches publish information about worship services.
According to the complaint, the suspect allegedly engaged in sexual contact with the 16-year-old church member between May 30 and July 10.
Numerous other sexual acts are alleged in the complaint, all undertaken by the suspect when he knew the alleged victim was a minor and while he was acting as her pastor.
The complaint does not state where the alleged assaults took place.
Frank Navarez, Emmanuel Fellowship pastor, referred all inquiries to the church’s attorney Dean Cox. Cox was out of town and unavailable for comment.
“We’ve made all the comments to the media we’re going to make,” Nevarez said.