A 55-year-old Santa Ana church youth pastor was charged Thursday with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl during a service.

Jonathan Lamont Jenkins of Riverside was charged with two counts of lewd acts on a child younger than 14, two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and a count of attempted lewd acts on a child younger than 14.

Jenkins was arrested about 6 p.m. Tuesday as he exited a liquor store, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. He faces up to 90 years to life in prison if convicted, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The alleged victim came forward to police earlier this week, Bertagna said.

Jenkins has been a member of the Starlight Baptist Church at 1201 W. Second St. since 2012, and he has served as a youth pastor there the past two years, Bertagna said.

The alleged victim, who is now 13, said Jenkins started making “sexual advances toward her” in January, according to Bertagna. Sometime in March, she was at a service when she went to the bathroom, where Jenkins was waiting for her. The girl tried to get away, but he “locked the door and choked her and physically restrained her while he sexually assaulted her,” Bertagna said.

The girl did not tell anyone and continued going to the church, Bertagna said, but on Aug. 5, Jenkins allegedly “mocked” the girl about the sexual assault and warned her not to tell anyone or he would claim the sex was consensual.

Jenkins is accused of touching the girl’s buttocks in January and attempting to “commit lewd acts” on her in April, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. He was also accused of attempting “to commit lewd acts” on her in July as well, prosecutors said.

Jenkins, being held on $1 million bail, has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1999 that includes robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and drug charges, Bertagna said. He has prior convictions for robbery in Los Angeles in 1983 and burglary in Orange County in 1986, according to prosecutors.

Investigators asked anyone who may have relevant information about Jenkins to call Detective Nick Vega at (714) 245-8368. Orange County Crime Stoppers will accept anonymous tips at (855) TIP-OCCS.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *