Youth pastor charged with sexually assaulting teen girl at Santa Ana church
A 56-year-old youth pastor is facing five felony charges after authorities say he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl at a church in Santa Ana.
Orange County prosecutors charged Jonathan Lamont Jenkins of Riverside on Thursday with two counts of lewd acts on a child under 14, two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of attempted lewd acts on a child, all felonies, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
If convicted, Jenkins faces a maximum sentence of 90 years to life in state prison.
Jenkins has been a youth pastor at the Starlight Baptist Church at 1201 W. 2nd St. in Santa Ana for two years. He’s been a member of the church since 2012.
Starlight Baptist Church officials did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Friday.
Prosecutors say Jenkins touched the girl’s buttocks at the church in January. The girl was 12 years old when the sexual advances began, according to Santa Ana police.
Police say Jenkins waited inside a church restroom for the girl during a service in March. When she walked into what she thought was an empty restroom, he prevented her from leaving, threatened her with physical violence, strangled and then sexually assaulted her, police said.
The girl didn’t immediately report the incident and continued attending the church, where Jenkins continued to commit lewd acts on the teen, according to prosecutors.
In August, Jenkins mocked the girl about the sexual assault when he saw her at church, police said.
“Jenkins told the victim if she reported this to the police, he would say she allowed the sexual assault to occur,” police wrote in a statement.
The girl’s family called authorities Monday to report the incidents. Detectives arrested Jenkins a day later as he walked into a liquor store in Santa Ana.
He is being held in Orange County Jail on $1-million bail. He is expected to appear in court for an arraignment on Oct. 19.
Jenkins has prior convictions for robbery in Los Angeles in 1983 and burglary in Orange County in 1986, according to prosecutors.
Law enforcement officials suspect there may be additional victims. Anyone with information in the matter is asked to call Det. Nick Vega of the Santa Ana Police Department at (714) 245-8368 or the Orange County district attorney’s office supervising investigator, Eric Wiseman, at (714) 347-8794.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.