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Current Page: U.S. | Sunday, November 10, 2013
Colorado Church Leaders Accused of Covering up Youth Pastor Sex Abuse Scandal

Colorado Church Leaders Accused of Covering up Youth Pastor Sex Abuse Scandal

Five members of Vinelife's church leadership have been accused of covering-up an investigation examining claims that the church's youth pastor had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman starting when she was 15. | (Photo: Google Maps Screenshot)

Five Colorado church leaders covered up information about a youth pastor who allegedly sexually assaulted a female church attendee starting when she was 15, claim Boulder police officials.

Law enforcement have accused Vinelife Church executive pastor Robert Phillip "Bob" Young, pastor Luke Humbrecht, pastor Edward Bennell, church elder Warren Lloyd Williams and another member of the leadership team who is currently out of the country, of failing to report the alleged sexual abuse to law enforcement or human service officials.

Police arrested youth pastor Jason Allen Roberson, 35, on Sept. 4, "charging him with one count of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust; one count of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of unlawful sexual contact," according to 7NEWS. The Boulder County District Attorney office later "added one count of stalking,"

Roberson is currently on administrative leave at the Longmont church, where his father, Walter Roberson, is senior pastor. Walter has not been charged, though his relationship with the investigation remains unknown.

According to a statement from Vinelife Church, it "has cooperated with law enforcement in their investigation concerning allegations of sexual misconduct made by a past member of the staff at Vinelife Church."

However, in police reports recently disclosed to 7NEWS, "VineLife Church initially refused" to give authorities reports from a therapist whom the church had requested work with Roberson. It also ignored a court order on July 11 to turn over records of the church's internal investigation.

It was only "after the Boulder District Attorney's office warned of possible contempt charges for failure to comply with a court order," police Detective Brannon Winn wrote in a report, that VineLife Church acquiesced.

According to the church's statement, its had tried to stay quiet about the allegations because "it was the understanding of the Church leadership that the former employee did not want this matter to be made public."

Subsequently, "the Church sought and obtained legal counsel, who indicated that the Church leadership would not violate Colorado law by not reporting the incident given the current age of the victim. Soon after the former employee gave notice to the Church, she reported the incident to the City of Boulder Police Department."

The alleged victim, who is currently 24 and previously worked for the church, told police in May that her relationship with Roberson began when she was 15 and continued for the next seven years.

"[The victim] trusted (Roberson) as an authority figure and spiritual guide, and felt uncomfortable disclosing the relationship to others," police said.

Eventually, she resigned from her position and moved out of the area, reported the arrest affidavit. In March, she returned to meet with church leaders and discussed her relationship with Roberson for two hours. While soon after, the youth pastor was suspended from his position and an internal investigation launched, Pastors Bob Young and Ed Bennel and church elder Warren Williams never reported the incident to law enforcement.

While it is still unclear the extent of the relationship between Roberson and the victim, documents released in the July court order revealed that "Jason Roberson has repeatedly confessed to church officials that he has touched (the victim's) breasts on multiple occasions," the affidavit stated.

The affidavit also alleged that after church leaders put Roberson under a polygraph, he also admitted groping the alleged victim while she was under 18.

Roberson also admitted to touching her breasts though he did not clarify whether she was under or over the age of consent and said that the girl had unintentionally seen a picture of his penis on his cellphone.

He also admitted to watching her change through the windows, though according to the affidavit, "he had stopped watching (the teen) prior to seeing her nude."

On Roberson's personal website, he describes himself as a "son, husband, and father" who loves "the songs and sounds that unveil the heart of God in his people."

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