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Tennessee church is crime scene after pastor arrested for rape of underage congregant

Pastor James "Ronnie" Messer of the Crossway Worship Center in Newport, Tennessee and Jame Messer mugshot, courtesy of the Cocke County Detention Center, composite image.

The pastor of the Crossway Worship Center in Newport, Tennessee is in jail after being arrested on charges of rape and aggravated sexual battery by an authority figure, WATE-TV reported Wednesday.

Pastor James “Ronnie” Messer was arrested by sheriff’s deputies after a girl revealed to family members that she had been raped by her pastor.

The sexual assault allegedly occurred inside the church.

Pastor Messer allegedly directed the girl to take off her clothes and then raped her on the floor of the church.

A detective who interviewed Messer said he admitted to intercourse with the girl, but claimed it was consensual.

Prosecutors charged Messer with statutory rape and forcible rape charges, in addition to aggravated sexual battery by an authority figure.

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