A youth pastor in Largo, Florida was arrested on Tuesday after he was accused of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl, according to the ABC Action News. Authorities say Domenic Victor Bisesti, 31, worked at Anona United Methodist Church, which is located at 13233 Indian Rocks Rd. A senior pastor said Bisesti was a trusted employee.
Members of the church were stunned after learning that a parent contacted Largo police, claiming that Bisesti, who was also the director of drama and dance and worked with countless children every Sunday, inappropriately touched her daughter during several church functions. When investigators questioned the girl, who cannot be named, she stated that for the past several months, the pastor would “touch her on the buttocks over her clothing.”
According to police, the teen initially thought the inappropriate touching was accidental, but when she uncovered that Bisesti was purportedly touching her for his own sexual gratification, she told him to stop. When the pastor refused, she told her mother who then reported the incident to police.
Officers with the Pinellas Police Department were able to retrieve information from the teen’s cell phone which corroborated her story, and police officials were able to place the pastor under arrest. Bisesti was charged with Lewd and Lascivious Molestation. It is unknown if there are other victims, but Largo police will be conducting an investigation.
The senior pastor at Anona United Methodist Church, Jack Stephenson, stated that there was no reason to question the suspect’s integrity as a background check was conducted on each of the church’s employees on a regular basis, which is to ensure that each staff member is properly trained to be safe and age appropriate.
Pastor Stephenson went on to say that he is disappointed after learning about the allegations against the Anona United Methodist Church’s youth pastor, but the church is cooperating with investigators.
The church will be bringing in counselors to help the victim and her family to get through this unfortunate situation. Counselors will also be offered to other parents in a bid to help them break the news to their children, as well as to find out if their child may have been a victim.
It was reported that the youth pastor’s arrest prompted the church to remove him from his position, and he is no longer welcome back to the church.
The youth pastor remains at the Pinellas County jail on a $10,000 bond.