Otis Vernell Holland

America's Most Wanted
January 20, 2012

Cops: Con Man Posed as Pastor

Charismatic and cunning, Las Vegas Pastor Otis Holland is on the run after members of his church between the ages of 13 and 16 accused him of sexual abuse. The revelation of Holland's relationship with his young parishioners has opened a Pandora's box that has left Holland's entire congregation stunned and shamed. Police say this is not a case of a man of the cloth falling from grace.

"He was a con man, and he used the church front for his schemes," said Kevin Abernathy of the Henderson Police Department, the lead investigator on the case. "In the 19 years that I've been on the job, I would rank this as probably the worst case I've dealt with as far as a predator identifying and abusing victims." said Abernathy.

Trusted Minster becomes Alleged Predator

Otis Holland's journey from trusted minister to alleged predator started in the late 1990s, when he founded United Faith Church. Holland broke off from a ministry headed by his mother. That's also where he found his first members. Karla Grajeda was among a group of teenagers who looked to Holland for guidance.

"Otis was a mentor to all of us," said Karla. "He really encouraged us to go to school, seeking out our dreams, our goals. He pretty much just motivated us to do the best we could with our lives."

Holland wore a humble uniform of baggy blue jeans and wrinkled shirts, and encouraged his young followers to lead a chaste and pure life. But when Karla turned 18, Holland's message changed. He told her that he wanted to pursue her romantically.

Karla started dating Holland, but cops say she wasn't the only young woman that he had eyes for in the congregation. Authorities say Holland's parishioners now know that their pastor had secret relationships with at least three other women in the church. AMW spoke with two of Holland's alleged lovers who asked to remain anonymous. They both describe Holland as a master manipulator who used the word of the lord to isolate them from the rest of the world.

"He would always criticize the women harshly -- we could easily be had," said one of his anonymous lovers. "He had this control that if I left him I would turn out to be a slut or a whore."

That's how one of Holland's young victims who we'll call "Ava" says Holland convinced her to have sex with him.

Sex As "Counseling"

"It was never my intention to have a sexual relationship with him," said Ava. "He kept telling me that I was going to be a 'hoe,' and that I was easy and that I'm a stupid female. I didn't want to be like that, but he never told me what to do about it. So I came to him for counseling."

Police say counseling was the ploy that Holland used to lure in all of his underage victims, and he identified them through prayer cards written by their parents.

"The parents would pray for their children who were having difficulty with a divorce or separation, and he would use that as his road to counsel the victims," said Abernathy.

According to police, Holland told his teen victims that they were feeling a pressure, which was his code word for lust. Holland allegedly prescribed that he, as their pastor, release that pressure and preserve the girls' chastity. Police say Holland held some of these counseling sessions in the back of his private limousine, and even soundproofed one of the rooms in his five bedroom gated-community home where he videotaped his victims.

Members of United Faith Church also say that Holland used the church's money to buy that home while it could no longer afford to lease a location. Holland was holding Sunday services at the tax preparation offices of some of his parishioners at the time of his arrest.

Police first charged Holland with sexual abuse of a minor in December, 2010, after one of his alleged teenage victims went to police. Cops say by July 2011, four victims in all came forward, and Holland skipped town. Police have been searching for Holland in Central Florida and Southern California where he has family. They also suspect that he could be in the Philippines where he may be setting up another church.


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