Longmont Church Officials Face Charges In Assault Case

BOULDER, Colo. (AP/CBS4) — Boulder police have issued tickets to two pastors and two elders associated with VineLife Church in Longmont after investigators said the officials failed to report allegations that a youth pastor sexually assaulted a child who was a member of the church.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Police said in a statement Wednesday a fifth church official, who is currently out of the country, will be served a summons when he returns to Colorado.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The victim is now 23 years old. She told police the relationship with her pastor began when she was 15 years old and continued for seven years.

Police arrested youth pastor Jason Roberson in September on sex assault charges after he admitted having a relationship with the victim, who was also a church employee.

The pastors and elders face charges of failing to report child abuse, a misdemeanor. They were issued tickets on Tuesday and Wednesday. They have been identified as Warren Williams, Ed Bennell, Luke Hembrecht and Bob Young. The fifth is identified as Walt Roberson, who is Jason Roberson’s father and head pastor. He’s currently out of the country and will be served a summons when he returns.

“They have an obligation to report this. They did not report to us upfront and, in fact, they waited until there was a police investigation to talk to us about any of this. That’s why they’re receiving tickets,” Kim Kobel with Boulder police said.

The church released a statement on Wednesday after the tickets were issued.

“It was the understanding of the church leadership that the former employee did not want this matter to be made public,” the statement said.

CBS4 went by Jason Roberson’s home on Wednesday but nobody answered. Neighbors say his wife and two daughters still live there but they haven’t seen Jason Roberson in recent weeks.

If convicted the five church officials who received tickets could face six months in prison.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • http://www.whitefieldschurch.com/ nickcady

    Reblogged this on The Longmont Pastor and commented:
    What happened at VineLife is grievous, and the worst kind of offense. In a place where people, especially youth, should be safe, an offense like this is especially terrible.
    What makes it worse in this case is that pastors and elders were involved in covering up the situation and not reporting it to police.
    There is biblical precedent for dealing with things internally rather than going to court, but I believe this regards civil disputes rather than crimes, especially felonies.
    The other thing this stories brings to awareness for pastors and church leaders is the fact that pastors, like teachers, are mandatory reporters. A friend of mine who works at a school was recently held responsible before the law because he heard a rumor, investigated it himself, was convinced that nothing had happened – yet did not report it to police. That’s against the law. Pastors in America need to keep that in mind – and we must never cover up crimes. This all falls under the category of respecting the authorities that God has placed over us and the laws of the land in which we live (Romans 13).

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