A 33-year-old youth pastor in Pennsylvania has been arrested after he was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl at his church.
Court documents filed by Rostraver Police accused Journey By Grace Church's Brian Keith Smith of felony indecent assault of a minor younger than 16, felony possession of child pornography and several other misdemeanors, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The criminal complaint stated that the Smith recruited the girl to join his youth group, The Joshua Project, in September of 2013.
"At this point in time, the victim reported that the defendant began driving her home from church after youth group meetings," the complaint said. "The victim stated in late fall of 2013 they began to frequently send text messages to each other. Victim stated that soon after the frequent text messages, the defendant would drive her home. While driving, the defendant would stroke the victim's face which encouraged intimacy."
Smith is accused of first kissing the victim in February of 2014. By mid-July, the assault had escalated to penetrating her with his fingers, exchanging oral sex, and other sexual contact, according to police.
"The first sexual encounter did, our investigation revealed, did occur at the church itself. Which subsequently occurred multiple times at the church," Rostraver Police Chief Greg Resetar explained. "It appears as if Mr. Smith is a very manipulative person. It appears that he may tend to prey on children that may be experiencing some problems in their life. At that point, he sort of makes his way into their personal life and he encourages this type of activity."
In a July 18 interview, Smith reportedly admitted to the sexual assault, and to having explicit sexual photos that the girl sent to him by text message.
Smith told police that "both of us knew it was wrong," the complaint stated.
Grace Church Rev. Bill Bailey said that the church reacted quickly to inform law enforcement and terminate Smith's employment after learning of the allegations.
"When allegations were heard and made against our church youth director Mr. Brian Smith, we immediately went with the offended party to the Rostraver police," he insisted. "We have made every effort to cooperate with our local police department."
According to Chief Resetar, Smith had been under investigation in another state after similar accusations. No charges were filed, but Resetar planned to ask for the case to be reopened.
Smith was being held at Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bond.
Watch the video below from KDKA, broadcast July 29, 2014.