By Tobias Salinge: rA Pennsylvania pastor faces charges he impregnated a 15-year-old girl from his youth group during a seven-month sexual relationship, according to reports.
The wife of Wesley Blackburn, youth pastor at Faith Brethren Bible Church, told the New Paris church’s head pastor he had confessed to the relationship and asked for a divorce, senior pastor Jim Espenshade told WJAC-TV on Wednesday.
Espenshade and other church leaders immediately fired Blackburn, a 35-year-old father of five, and alerted police last week. He was charged Oct. 6 on hundreds of counts of statutory sexual assault and indecent assault.
“I don’t know this man,” Espenshade, 35, told the TV station. “The man that got arrested, I don’t know him. I was shocked, absolutely shocked. You work with him and you’re there and you’re thinking, ‘How could this happen? How could he do this?’”
Blackburn told a state trooper who found him packing his belongings at the church that he started having sex with the girl in March, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown. He admitted he fathered the girl’s child, the affidavit showed.
Blackburn, who also served as a Sunday school teacher, had met the girl during his first year at the church in 2009, according to the court documents. She had been in his youth group for seventh and eighth graders since 2014, the documents showed.
Police said Blackburn had revealed the affair to his wife the night before. He told her he does not love her and asked for a divorce, according to investigators.
She told Espenshade what happened the following morning. The senior pastor and Faith Brethren’s deacons then met to discuss it in the parking lot of the church in the tiny borough 90 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Investigators said Blackburn refused to discuss the matter with Espenshade and the deacons. They decided to can him right away, Espenshade told WJAC.
“We didn’t even care what he had to say. We don’t tolerate this kind of stuff. It’s inappropriate. It’s reprehensible.” Espenshade said. “And there was never a discussion of anything else. And I don’t mean this in a terrible way: We didn’t care what the community was going to say about us, we had to do what was right.”