A Belleview pastor was arrested Tuesday and accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old church member.
Christopher Lee Patrick, 30, who serves as the youth pastor at Grace Baptist Church, was taken into custody by Marion County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Det. Craig Evans and booked into the Marion County Jail.
The sheriff’s office was contacted about Patrick after the parent of a child in the youth program was made aware that “Pastor Chris” allegedly was sending inappropriate texts and images to another child in the group. That parent notified the school resource officer at a local high school and an investigation was launched, a sheriff’s office report states.
During his investigation, Evans obtained records from the victim’s phone and recovered the sexually explicit messages and images Patrick allegedly had sent.
Evans also found messages telling the victim to “deny everything to the police and to tell everyone that it wasn’t him that she was talking to.” And Patrick allegedly told the victim to tell investigators that she had changed the name on the text message to “make it look like it was him,” the report says.
After being read his rights, Patrick denied knowledge of the text messages and requested a lawyer. He was charged with obscene communication (using a computer to seduce, solicit and lure a child) and cruelty toward a child (transmitting information harmful to minors).
Patrick is being held on $4,000 bond. His next court date wasn’t yet available.