Saddleback Church youth mentor accused of lewd conduct with teen boys
A youth mentor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest has been accused of lewd acts involving two teenage boys while he volunteered there, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.
Ruven Meulenberg, 32, was arrested Thursday and booked on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts on a child and is being held on $100,000 bail, authorities said. Jail records show he is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in a Santa Ana courtroom.
Detectives were alerted after a 14-year-old boy told his parents that Meulenberg had molested him, Lt. Lane Lagaret said. The parents told the church’s youth pastor, who called the Sheriff’s Department, Lagaret said.
Another 14-year-old boy turned up during the detectives’ investigation, Lagaret said.
Meulenberg is a Lake Forest resident who had been volunteering at the church for six years, and during that time, he developed relationships with the two boys, Lagaret said. Some of the conduct allegedly took place on church property, officials said.
In a statement to its conregation, Saddleback Church said it was “shocked and grieved to share that this week a Saddleback member reported that a student ministry volunteer had acted inappropriately with two 14 year old boys.” The church said its volunteers are fingerprinted, their backgrounds are checked and that they receive annual training on appropriate conduct.
The statement continued: “We ask you to do two things: First, please pray for the Saddleback families who are involved in this sad matter. Second, please pray for the investigators as they determine the facts. As followers of Jesus, we always want the whole truth to come out because Jesus taught us that lies enslave us, but the truth sets us free.”
Authorities say there could be more possible victims and are asking for the public’s help in finding them.
Anyone with information is asked to call the department’s special victims unit at (714) 647-7418.
For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.
7:30 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Saddleback Church.
This article was originally published at 5:25 p.m.
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