Pastor accused of raping impaired teen now on the run, is former cop

Monte Lavelle Chitty, 62, is senior pastor of First Baptist Marathon in Florida.
Monte Lavelle Chitty, 62, is senior pastor of First Baptist Marathon in Florida. | YouTube/First Baptist Church; Monroe County Sheriff

Monte Lavelle Chitty, a 62-year-old Florida pastor and former police officer accused of getting a 15-year-old member of his church drunk and sexually assaulting her, is now on the run weeks after he was released on a $75,000 bond.

"Our understanding is that he's already on the road and he's left the state of Florida," Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward told Local 10 News on Monday.

Chitty, who served as leader of First Baptist of Marathon, recently started a dockside ministry for a boating community in Boot Key Harbor, failed to attend a scheduled court hearing on Monday. Prosecutors say he fled the state in a white van with out-of-state plates.

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A judge increased his bond to $1.3 million and issued a warrant for his arrest, Local 10 reported.

The pastor was previously charged with sexual battery of a minor, lewd and lascivious conduct and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said.

He was first reported by an anonymous caller who overheard the teenager telling an adult that she had been raped.

"The caller said the girl and her grandmother had boarded a dinghy and headed out into the harbor. As deputies attempted to find the victim, communications officers received a second call from the suspect, Monte Chitty, who is the pastor at the First Baptist Church in Marathon," the release said.

"Chitty said he believed he was about to be accused of something and he wanted to get ahead of it. He said a young girl at his church had been drinking and had passed out on a couch in the library of the church. He said he helped her to lie down on the couch but did not touch her after that."

Police contacted the teenager on a boat where she lives, and she told them that the pastor gave her alcohol, which might have been "spiked."

"She said she immediately began to feel weak and lost consciousness. She said when she woke up, she found Chitty sexually molesting her," the release said.

Investigators later found text messages between the teenager and the pastor where he "made reference to having sexual relations with the girl while she was impaired."

"The crime he committed is very disgusting, to tell you the truth," Ward said Monday while asking the judge in the case to revoke the pastor's bond.

Detective Chris Vanhoose, a Monroe County Sheriff's Office investigator who took the stand during the hearing, told the judge that they also took a look at the pastor's web search history and found "how to make sex for a virgin less painful" among his queries.

He also reportedly searched on the combination of alcohol and Ritalin, which the teenager was known to take.

Investigators noted that Chitty, who previously worked in churches in 25 states, told his wife on recorded jail telephone calls not to pay any bills and to have a yard sale to earn cash before going on the lam.

"This guy's a former cop from Alaska and a preacher and he violated a 15-year-old girl, so I'm concerned about everybody in this guy's path," Ward said. "Our concern is not only for this community, but where's this guy going to go? We want to get this guy and we will bring him into custody."

Disappointed parishioners who attended Chitty's hearing on Monday expressed their disappointment in their former leader.

"He's let a lot of people down," one congregant who was not named told Local 10. "Not only his family but his church family also."

Anyone with information on the pastor's whereabouts is being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

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

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