Phoenix church youth leader charged with underage sexual conduct
By Sarah Anderson
April 11, 2016
|Pastor Robert Jerez|
A community church pastor in Phoenix has been charged with nine counts of sexual conduct and one count of sexual abuse, according to Maricopa County Superior Court documents.
An employee at Grace Walk Community Church on West Lower Buckeye Road in Phoenix first reported to the Tolleson Police Department on April 7 that an underage girl had talked about having a sexual relationship with Robert Jerez, 35, according to court documents. Jerez is a youth leader at the church and is known there as "Pastor Tony," police said.
The victim told police that she had sex with Jerez more than 10 times since November 2015 and that the two of them exchanged nude photos via text messages. According to court documents, Jerez was aware of her age from the beginning, as she had filled out paperwork with her date of birth when she sat in a youth group with him.
The victim told police their first sexual encounter happened after church, when Jerez came to her apartment after her father went to work, and that she took one of her father's oxycodone pills beforehand because she was nervous.
The victim also told police she would sometimes say no when he asked her to perform a sexual act, and he would coerce her into it anyway, or he would sometimes have sex with her without her explicit consent, the court document said. The last time they had sex, the victim said she was high on pills, according to court documents.
When police spoke to the girl's father, he told them the church employee had told him about what his daughter had said, and that she had been in a sexual relationship with Jerez from October to December 2015, court documents said. The girl's father also said that she and Jerez consumed alcohol and used drugs at her home, and that they broke up in January 2016 when she wanted to "get clean," according to court documents.
After interviewing the victim, police said they arrested Jerez at his home and interviewed him at Tolleson Police Department. He confirmed much of what the victim and her father told police, and confessed that he was a heroin and oxycodone addict, but denied being in a sexual relationship with any other underage parishioners, according to court documents.
Jerez's first hearing will be at 8:30 a.m. on April 15 at Maricopa County Superior Court. Bond has been set at $100,000.