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Pennsylvania church deacon accused of sexually assaulting teenage girl

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A Pennsylvania church deacon has been charged with assaulting an underage girl and authorities believe he might have also victimized others.

Jeronimo Maisonet, a 45-year-old Monroe County deacon at Church of God Holy Ground, was arrested on Sunday and charged with unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault of a person younger than 16 years old, and corruption of minors, according to lehighvalleylive.com.

The state police investigation into Maisonet began on Oct. 18, with authorities believing that the abuse of the girl began in 2018 when she was 14 years old.

Police believe that “other minor children may have been victimized by Maisonet” and they are “requesting anyone with additional information” to come forward, the news outlet added. 

According to the unnamed accuser, Maisonet first met her when she attended the church as a freshman in high school and became increasingly interested in her.

The teenager told police that the deacon was “extremely close with all of the children who attended” and would say things like, 'You belong to me,'" according to the Pocono Record.

Maisonet allegedly told the teenager that when she turned 18, he was going to “leave his wife, and they would be together,” the Record reported.

The alleged abuse included forcing the teen to sit on his lap during worship while he had an erection and taking the teen to a secluded part of the church to kiss and grope her.

On Saturday, police wiretapped a phone call between Maisonet and the teenager he allegedly abused, with the church deacon appearing to confess to the sexual abuse.

"He began stating that his life is a mess," authorities said, as reported by the Record. "He continually stated that he was 'sorry' and didn't mean to hurt [the victim].”

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