Virginia Beach Megachurch Pastor Charged with Soliciting Minors Online for Sex
A Virginia Beach pastor was one of several men arrested after local police conducted a sting operation to catch suspects who thought they were chatting with minors online to solicit sex.
The Chesterfield County Police arrested John Blanchard, 51, along with 16 other suspects who “communicated with people they believed to be underage members of our community and arranged to meet them at a location to have sexual relations,” according to a news release quoted by the Virginian-Pilot.
Blanchard and his wife Robin Blanchard are the senior pastors of the Rock Church in Virginia Beach.
All 17 of the alleged perpetrators face felony solicitation of prostitution as well as other charges, including Blanchard, who also is charged with use of a vehicle to promote prostitution, per the Virginian-Pilot.
Rock Church said in a statement on its website that it could not comment on the accusations at the advice of legal counsel but said Blanchard has voluntarily stepped down from all ministerial duties “until this present situation is totally resolved.”
“We are all committed to walking in integrity and truth at Rock Church International and will continue to take steps to do so,” the statement said. “Our assignment as believers is not to condemn, but to be agents of God’s love, healing, justice, and reconciliation (Romans 3:23: ‘for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’) If we are to walk in eternity with Christ, our position must be one of truth, love, faith, mercy, justice, and forgiveness.’”
The church website describes John Blanchard as “coming from a background in atheism and a dysfunctional childhood” and says his “heart is to reach a generation with a message of hope through the healing and delivering power of Jesus Christ.”
Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Detectives engaged with suspects and undercover units made the arrests.
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