An Arkansas evangelical church pastor was arrested last week and has admitted to using meth with congregants and "exorcizing" a toddler, according to police.
Lloyd Eddie Lasker Jr., 49, the pastor of House of Refuge and Deliverance Ministries in Mayflower, was arrested at a gas station on Sept. 22.
According to court records, Lasker has been charged with possession of a controlled substance — a Class C felony — possession of drug paraphernalia — a Class D felony — as well as possession of a gun by a convicted felon.
The News & Observer reports that the Conway Police Department submitted an affidavit in Faulkner County Circuit Court that states detective Brittani Little was called to the church on Sept. 18 to do a welfare check.
What she discovered inside the church was an emaciated 1-year-old child “with multiple bruises from head to toe” as well as the pastor and the child’s mother.
The church is located on a rural stretch of highway in a town located about a half-hour north of Little Rock.
In an affidavit, Little said the child was sent to the hospital and is now in intensive care with a “brain bleed and extreme malnourishment.”
A second affidavit explains that Little, along with fellow officer Andrew Burningham, went looking for Lasker four days later to ask him questions related to the child abuse case.
The officers saw his white pick-up truck at an Exxon gas station off the highway in Mayflower, a town about 11 miles from Conway.
According to the court document, officers discovered the pastor in the passenger seat of the truck with another man, Timothy Bynum, standing near the driver’s side.
According to the court document, the truck is registered to the church.
During a vehicle search, officers found 4 grams of meth and a pipe. Bynum was charged with possession of meth and a pipe found on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
According to police, Lasker denied any knowledge of the items being in the truck. However, the pastor “did admit to using methamphetamine in the past,” including “several times” in the church.
Lasker also reportedly admitted to police that he “has used meth in the church several times” with the child’s mother and other church members, the newspaper notes.
Police Searched Lasker’s home and found a shotgun and ammunition. Lasker admitted to being a felon, which makes it illegal for him to possess firearms, according to an affidavit filed by Burningham.
A search was also conducted at the church, where Little found “one baggy with white crystal residue” that she suspected to be meth.
When interviewed by detective Little about the child abuse case involving the abused 1-year-old child found at his church, Lasker admitted that he had tried to “exorcise the demon in [the child] but he would not explain how he did this.”
Lasker made his first appearance before a judge during a bond hearing on Sept. 23 and was given a $7,500 bond, according to a pretrial order.
A plea and arraignment hearing has been set for Oct. 13.
According to court records, Lasker had previously been found guilty of possession of a controlled substance and public intoxication stemming from an incident on May 12, 2018.
He was sentenced to supervised probation, a $1,000 fine and a six-month suspension on his driver’s license.
The Christian Post reached out to House of Refuge and Deliverance Ministries for comment on Lasker’s arrest and charges. No one could be reached for comment.
On Facebook, the ministry describes itself as an evangelical church that is “one of the fastest-growing churches in the area!” The church's website is no longer active and its Facebook page was last updated on October 2019.
Mayflower is a growing community of over 2,000 residents.