Update: To be clear, Solomon's victim was a mere 12 years old when the alleged sexting/sexing began. That's CHILD status. More on his charges — including “oral copulation” — at the bottom.
Originally posted at 9:45 a.m.
A two-decade-old community church in Inglewood has been turned upside down this morning with news that its pastor, 50-year-old Gordon Solomon — who poses happily with his wife Ruth in a photo on the church's website — may have been sexting and molesting a young girl he met through work.
And the L.A. County Sheriff's Department says it has “reason to believe that there may be additional victims.”
Here's the evidence against him:
Sheriff's investigators with the Special Victims Bureau say they were contacted by the mother of a 14-year-old girl after she “discovered an explicit text from Solomon directed to the victim.”
When they tracked the young teen's digital trail, investigators determined that an “ongoing affinity” between her and the 50-year-old pastor had…
… developed and continued for (approximately) the past two years. Solomon and the victim exchanged numerous emails and texts of a sexual nature and met at various locations.
Although it's not clear whether they actually had sex, the Sheriff's Department is alleging that Solomon engaged in “substantial sexual acts” with his victim, who he reportedly met through the church.
He's got a huge bail — $3 million — and is being held for “Lewd Acts Upon a Child, 288(a),” which means there was (allegedly) some very heavy petting involved. From the California Penal Code:
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (i), any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.
On its website, Christ's Community Church of Los Angeles says it “considers itself a Christian family amongst which one can learn and grow.” Church activities include “Pastor's Bible Study” on Tuesday evenings, as well as programs like “The Elohim Praise Dancers” and “The 'Girls' singing group.”
The only online review of the church we can find is one on Google, in which a user says: “Wonderful and exciting congregation with a dynamic Pastor.” (A pastor who speaks the word of God and knows how to sext? Now that's dynamic.)
We've contacted Christ's Community Church for comment. But congregants, let us know: Did Pastor Solomon ever show any signs that he might have been engaging in this type of activity?
Any additional victims, or anyone with information about the pastor's alleged two-year-relationship, are urged to contact the Special Victims Bureau at 1-877-710-5273.
Update: According to City News Service, the Los Angeles district attorney got involved today, charging Solomon with “nine felony sex-related counts involving an underage girl.” These include…
… seven counts of committing a lewd act on a child and one count each of continuous sexual abuse and oral copulation of a person under the age of 14.
Sgt. Dan Scott at the Special Victim's Bureau says the girl was only 12 years old when Solomon began pursuing her in June 2010.
And, most creepily, the criminal complaint against the pastor says the abuse didn't end until this last Sunday.
“Based on statements obtained by interviews” during the investigation, Sgt. Scott says he believes the pastor may have molested other children at the church.
The 14-year-old's family belongs to Christ's Community Church, says Scott, and attends the pastor's sermons regularly. But it wasn't until the victim's mom found an alleged sext from Solomon that she began to get a glimpse behind the curtain.