Former Youth Pastor Accused of Sexual Abuse

By Denise Yost
NBC 4i
July 18, 2008

MANSFIELD, Ohio — An alleged sex abuse case involving a former youth pastor is coming to light — 16 years after the alleged incident and police fear there are more victims.

Police said 40-year-old John Picard was a youth pastor at Grace Brethren Church of Mansfield in 1992. Detectives said that's when Picard began a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl in his youth group.

"(He) misrepresented quotes from The Bible for his own sexual gratification," said Detective Jeff Shook. "It's gone from the time she was 13 until pretty recent. Now, she's quite a bit older. So the manipulation continued on into her adulthood."

Shook said it's not uncommon for young sex crime victims to wait for years before approaching police.

"When you're dealing with sex offenses, you can't force anybody to tell you what they've gone through. When it's time for them to talk, they talk," Shook said.

Picard was arrested near Dayton, where police said he has been living with his own wife and children.

No one answered the door at the Mansfield home that Picard still owns. Neighbors told NBC 4 they are upset and surprised by the charges against Picard. But police said they believe there are more victims.

"Now that people believe his secret is out, we hope they'll come forward," Shook said.

NBC 4's phone calls to Picard at the Warren County Jail in southwest Ohio were not returned.

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