A Louisiana pastor stands accused of raping an 11-year-old girl over a two-year period and videoing her nude on at least two occasions, according to authorities.
John Michael Ward, 45, of Westlake, was arrested Monday and charged with 10 counts of first-degree rape, 40 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and two counts of pornography involving a juvenile.
KPLC 7 reports:
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso confirmed to KPLC that Ward is the pastor of Bellview Baptist Church in Westlake. Ward has been pastor at Bellview since 2012, according to the church website.
Bruce Baker, director of Missions at Carey Baptist Association – a network of churches that includes Bellview Baptist Church, released the following statement:
“We are heartbroken. The church and the association of churches are devastated. We are mobilizing resources to care for the family, church, and community.”
The Sheriff’s Office arrested Ward following an anonymous call to the Department of Child and Family Services tip line on Monday, according to Kim Myers, spokesperson for the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office. Myers said Ward confirmed to detectives that he had been molesting the girl since 2017, when she was 9 years old. He said he videoed the girl twice while she was nude.
American Press adds:
Ward was arrested following an investigation by the sheriff’s office, which was initiated by an anonymous call to the Department of Child and Family Services’ tip line.
During a phone interview, Baker said he has been with the association for six years and knew Ward professionally.
“It’s fair to say both the association of churches and leadership of Bellview are just crushed,” he said. “It’s incredibly tragic. No one expected this that I’m aware of.”
Baker said he met with the deacons and church leadership at Bellview on Tuesday to discuss plans to continue supporting Ward’s wife and their children.
“We’re trying to care for them in the best way we can,” he said.
Judge Sharon Wilson set Ward’s bond at $640,000.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jesus was clear:
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. -Luke 17:2
The death penalty was instituted for crimes just like this.
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