Pastor accused of sexually assaulting ‘God daughters’ accepts plea deal

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

A Nevada pastor who was indicted a year ago on multiple charges of sexual assault and child abuse of a family member and two women he called his “God daughters” accepted a plea deal Monday to avoid a criminal conviction of the allegations in court.

Pastor Bobby Cornealius Smith, 46, who leads New Beginnings Ministries Church of God in Christ in Las Vegas with his wife, Lashawn Nicole Smith, agreed to an Alford plea, reported. 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.

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Smith, who will be sentenced on one count of misdemeanor conspiracy to commit a crime and one count of misdemeanor gross lewdness as part of the deal, will also need to complete probation and give up all electronic devices and equipment that were seized as part of the investigation against him. Once he completes probation, the charges against him will be dismissed.

Smith and his wife were both formally charged after one of their three alleged victims reported them to police in August 2022. The women alleged that their pastor and his wife took advantage of them when they were teenagers.

Transcripts from a grand jury report cited by CBS affiliate KLAS detail how Pastor Smith allegedly pressured his family member, beginning at age 17, into using sex toys multiple times and urged her to meet with him at area hotels.

She said the pastor told her, “God is telling me that it is important for you to do this.” He further insisted the sex toys would stop her from giving in to “urges” and ruining her life.

The family member, who is now an adult, said she eventually told LaShawn Smith what her husband had done but she never reported him to the police.

A second woman reported that while she was a member of his church, the pastor blocked a stairway, dropped his pants, and begged her for oral sex. The frightened woman alleges that she pushed him away.

Another woman said the pastor initiated contact with her when she was 17. About a year after her family joined the church, he texted her a photo of a sex toy and then eventually convinced her to start using the device by stating that sex toys aren’t sinful.

She said he would use the sex toys on her at different places, including two Las Vegas hotels. The woman said she eventually told Smith’s wife what they were doing but he later responded to her in a text stating: “… you guys want to paint me to be like this monster or like I’m doing something wrong when I’m just trying to help you all.”

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

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