A former pastor at a Tempe church -- serving a 15-year prison sentence for molesting a 14-year-old member of his congregation -- has pleaded guilty to molesting two other members of a congregation he led in Ohio.
Joshua O'Bannion, 27, pleaded guilty in a Cuyahoga County, Ohio, court to four counts of sexual battery and three counts of sexual conduct with a minor for molesting the two Ohio girls.
O'Bannion first was arrested in September 2009. He admitted to having sex with the girl at least three times while serving as youth pastor at the Christ Life Church in Tempe.
At the time, police suspected there could be other victims -- and there were.
After hearing about the pastor's arrest in Arizona, police in Parma, Ohio, say two girls, also 14, came forward to say O'Bannion had sex with them, too, when he was a pastor at their church.
Parma police spokesman Marty Compton told New Times in 2009 that while serving at the First United Pentecostal Church of Parma, O'Bannion had sex with the girls inside the church.
O'Bannion's grandfather, it so happens, is the head pastor at the Ohio church?
We can only speculate why O'Bannion left his family-run church to come here, but the allegations stem back to his starting at the Ohio church in 2006.
O'Bannion was back visiting his Ohio congregation just before his arrest here. After seeing O'Bannon, Compton says, some of the girls at the church were "spooked."
Compton says the church didn't exactly cooperate in the investigation, either. He says members seemed in a state of denial.
"We've seen a lot of these churches try to solve these things in house," Compton says. "Whether he saw [moving to Arizona] as a stepping stone or he was running from something, we don't know."
O'Bannion's sentencing in the Ohio cases is scheduled July 25, according to Cleveland.com, a local news website.
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