A youth pastor at a Pennsylvania church has been fired and charged with statutory rape after he impregnated a 15-year-old girl.
According to the Associated Press, when 35-year-old Wesley Blackburn told his wife he was having an affair with the girl and wanted a divorce, she turned to the senior pastor at Faith Brethren Bible Church, Jim Espenshade.
“I was shocked. Absolutely shocked,” Espenshade told WJAC News. “You work with him and you’re there and you’re thinking, how could this happen? How could he do this?”
When Blackburn’s wife told Espenshade that she didn’t know what to do, he replied, “I do.”
After consulting with other church leaders, Espenshade fired Blackburn and called the police.
“We didn’t even care what he had to say — we don’t tolerate this kind of stuff,” Espenshade told WJAC. “It’s inappropriate. It’s reprehensible.”
Blackburn has five children. As a youth pastor, he met weekly with seventh and eight-grade students. He was arrested at the church on the afternoon of Oct. 6.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Blackburn knew the implications of having a sexual relationship with the girl.
Blackburn told the trooper that he had met the girl in 2009, when he first came to Faith Brethren Bible Church, and that they grew closer after she joined his youth group in 2014, according to the affidavit. Blackburn said he and the girl developed a physical relationship in March, the affidavit said.
When the trooper informed Blackburn that the girl was pregnant, Blackburn acknowledged that he was the child’s father, according to the affidavit. The trooper then took Blackburn into custody.
“Everybody acted appropriately as soon as the information was found out,” Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins told WTAJ News.
“The church acted appropriately and has been cooperative with the investigation. There is no indication that anybody knew about it other than the two people involved. As soon as it was discovered, it was immediately reported to the authorities, who took prompt action.”
The AP reports that as of this Friday, Blackburn remained in the Bedford County jail unable to post bond on one count of corruption of minors and 84 counts of statutory sexual rape.