A married Pennsylvania pastor and father who reportedly fled the country after being accused of raping and impregnating a teenage girl who was once his congregant, has promised to turn himself in after police launched a manhunt for him on Monday.
West Whiteland Township Police Department in Exton, Pennsylvania, first announced on Monday that they were on the hunt for 33-year-old Jacob "Jake" Malone to answer charges of rape, institutional sexual assault and related offenses.
An attorney for Malone told the Philadelphia Enquirer that the fugitive was in Ecuador by himself and is expected to turn himself in by the end of the week.
The Enquirer reported that Malone resigned from his position as pastor at Calvary Fellowship Church in Downington after church leaders confronted him about the pregnancy of the teenager who had been living in his home.
Malone's alleged victim told police that she first met him at a church in Mesa, Arizona, where he served as a pastor when she was about 12 years old. Some five years later when the teenager turned 17, Malone allegedly invited her to come live with his family in Minnesota where he had begun serving as a pastor at a local church.
In July 2014, Malone moved his family to Chester County in Pennsylvania where he was starting a new position at Calvary Fellowship. He again invited the victim to live with him and his family and he even registered her at a local high school. In the fall of 2014 while she was living at his residence in the unit block of Atherton Drive in Exton, the teenager said Malone began sexually assaulting her even as she attended his church.
She further stated that on two occasions after she turned 18, Malone gave her alcohol. During one of those instances she said she became highly intoxicated and Malone molested her.
In a statement from pastors at Calvary Fellowship Church posted on the church's website on Tuesday, they said they were wickedly deceived by their "treacherous" former colleague.
"On behalf of the entire staff, we want you to know how deeply we share in your pain over the recent unfolding events in the life of our church. With so many developing details, we want to be as transparent with you as possible while still working closely with authorities," the statement began.
The church said even though they place a high priority on safety, Malone was able to circumvent their strict security check.
"Every staff person (as well as every volunteer who has any contact with children) is thoroughly background checked and, if meeting certain criteria, fingerprinted by the state. The staff participates jointly in ongoing education classes on issues related to sex crimes, mandatory reporting, etc. Jake Malone passed every check and participated in every educational forum. He flew completely under the radar, deceiving even those who were closest to him. We know this is hard to imagine, but we assure you that no one suspected anything until very recently," said the statement.
The pastors said if it had not been for God, they would still be in the dark about Malone's behavior.
"As soon as we had information, we reported to all proper authorities (multiple venues). Getting information was treacherous and difficult, and had it not been for the Lord shining light into darkness, we would probably still be looking in vain for the truth. All authorities were contacted and we immediately complied with everything they asked," the statement added.
When asked how Malone was able to leave the country if they reported the allegations to the police as promptly as they claimed, the church replied on Facebook, "Because of the ongoing investigation, all we can tell you is that the police were contacted immediately when we got the information."
The church was also asked about the well-being of the pastor's wife, Libby, and their children, to which church staff said they wanted to respect the family's privacy.
"We are trying very hard to treat them with the utmost dignity and respect during this awful time for them by not posting details online about their lives. Thank you for caring and thank you for praying for them. Please keep doing that, because it makes a difference," the church said.