A pastor in Pasco County is accused of sexual battery against a teen parishioner and was arrested on Friday, February 9, 2018.
Gerardo Martinez, 52, the pastor at Miracle Christian Church, met a 17-year-old parishioner when her parents brought her to the church. Martinez told the teen she suffered from multiple personalities and was possessed by a demon.
Deputies say Martinez gained the trust of the victim's parents and the victim so that he could have her stay in the church after services to pray for her.
"People put their trust in someone like a pastor and it's something that as a parent of a child they don't expect something like this to happen, but it's kind of obvious that he was, looks like he was grooming her," Jason Hatcher of Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.
Martinez reportedly drove to the victim's home in Pinellas County and entered her home for about an hour while her parents were away, according to a witness.
A witness reported seeing Martinez and the victim sitting close together in a back conference room of the church. Martinez called the witness to explain why they were so close and that the victim was possessed by a demon.
Martinez reportedly engaged in sexual contact with the victim from April 2017 to October 2017.
Martinez was arrested by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office on two counts of Sexual Battery. His bond was set at $5,000.