Las Vegas pastor escapes jail time for sex crimes case but required to register as sex offender

Pastor Bobby Smith and his wife LaShawn lead New Beginnings Ministries in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pastor Bobby Smith and his wife LaShawn lead New Beginnings Ministries in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Screenshot/New Beginnings Ministries

Nearly three years after he was charged with sexual assault, child abuse and other crimes involving multiple underage victims, Pastor Bobby Cornealius Smith of New Beginnings Ministries Church of God in Christ in Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced to one-year probation during which he will be required to register as a sex offender. However, he will continue to serve as a pastor, his attorney said.

Smith's sentence came as a result of a plea deal he accepted last month to avoid a criminal conviction of allegations of abuse involving a family member and two women he called his “God daughters.”

His defense attorney, Robert Draskovich, told 8 News Now that even though Smith intends to continue his work as a pastor, he cannot be alone with children beyond those who are biologically his.

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When contacted for comment on the sentence, officials at New Beginnings Ministries Church of God in Christ did not immediately respond to The Christian Post on Tuesday.

Last month, Smith, 46, and his wife, Lashawn Nicole Smith, agreed to an Alford plea.  The Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School explains that an Alford plea, also known as a “best-interests plea,” allows a defendant to register a formal admission of guilt for charges in criminal court while simultaneously expressing their innocence toward those same charges.

“Like the similar nolo contendere plea, an Alford plea skips the full process of a criminal trial because the defendant agrees to accept all the ramifications of a guilty verdict,” the institute says. Court documents cited by said the pastor acknowledged that there likely is enough evidence to cause a jury to reach a conviction if he had gone to trial.

Bretaishe Stewart, a former member of New Beginnings Ministries in Las Vegas, Nevada, claims Pastor Bobby Cornealius Smith begged her for sex.
Bretaishe Stewart, a former member of New Beginnings Ministries in Las Vegas, Nevada, claims Pastor Bobby Cornealius Smith begged her for sex. | Screenshot/CBS8

Smith was sentenced on one count of misdemeanor conspiracy to commit a crime and one count of misdemeanor gross lewdness as part of the deal. Once he completes probation, the charges against him will be dismissed.

When Smith and his wife were first arrested in August 2022, according to ABC affiliate KTNV, two of their alleged victims, who are now adult women, told police their pastor gave them a sex toy and told them to go to the bathroom and use it. He later allegedly used the toy on his then-underage victims and told one girl that "God had told him if (she) did not participate, it would ruin her life."

Smith allegedly used four different sex toys with one victim who told police “it definitely happened over 30 times."

Another woman, who said she was known as one of the pastor’s "God daughters," told police she was abused while she was staying with the pastor’s family as a teen. He allegedly used a sex toy on her “periodically for months."

When she turned 18, she said Pastor Smith invited her to an apartment and "convinced her" to have sex with "an unknown older guy" and someone else whose name was redacted in police records.

A third woman said she was just 17 when she joined Pastor Smith’s church and revealed she was having marital problems. She obeyed him when he told her she "needed to leave her husband." And she, too, became one of his "God daughters."

She eventually joined other so-called God daughters in spending more time at the pastor’s family home, including sleepovers.

One night, according to the woman, Smith called her to his room and coerced her to perform a sex act on him.

When she became "terrified Bobby was going to rape or hurt her," she told police she pushed him away and alerted the other God daughters.

She said she pushed him away and ran downstairs to tell one of the other girls what had happened.

When asked if probation was enough for the pastor, Bretaishe Stewart, a former church member who lived with the pastor and his wife for a period, insisted that he is a predator. She said Smith once blocked her in a stairway then dropped his pants and begged her to perform oral sex on him, but she pushed him off and got away.

“It was a traumatic experience from basically you finally get the family you always desired, you know, not having a father or mother and even siblings, and then it being stripped away,” Stewart told 8 News Now in Las Vegas. “I’m not the judge. At the end of the day, God is the judge.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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