RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A judged ruled Friday that a pastor and two members of a Corona group home should be tried on kidnapping and abuse charges stemming from their “punishment” of a 13-year-old boy they accused of raping his sister.
Nicholas James Craig, 22, Darryll Duane Jeter, 28, and Lonny Lee Remmers, 54, reportedly beat, used pepper-spray and pliers on the boy’s body.
The three men, all associated with the Heart of Worship mission in Corona, face more than 15 years in prison if convicted.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Harry “Skip” Staley found sufficient evidence to bound Remmers over for trial on one count each of kidnapping and making criminal threats. The judge said Remmers would be tried for two counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and child abuse.
Staley dismissed two counts against Craig including assault and child abuse charge. However, the judge said the defendant should answer charges of kidnapping, making criminal threats, false imprisonment and inflicting corporal injury on a minor.
Jeter was ordered to stand trial on the same counts, though the judge dismissed one count each of assault and child abuse.
The men, all free on bail, will appear for a post-preliminary hearing arraignment on Oct. 3.
During today’s hearing, Corona police Detective Brad Voorhees described four separate instances of alleged child abuse.
Voorhees testified that in March, the mother of a 13-year-old boy — identified in court documents only as Jacob — brought her son to pastor Remmers, asking him to keep the youth at the group home. The mother reportedly told the pastor Jacob ouldn’t be trusted around his 7-year-old sister, whom he had sexually assaulted more than once.
According to the detective, Remmers, Craig and Jeter allegedly proceeded to abuse Jacob over the ensuing two weeks.
At one point, Craig and Jeter allegedly drove the boy to the desert outside Barstow, where they allegedly had him “dig his own grave,” Voorhees said.
“They told him to get in the hole. He said he kept trying to get out, but they kept pushing him … kicking him back in,” the detective testified.
“He said they told him, `This is what it feels like to be dead,” Voorhees said.
According to testimony, a member of the group home told investigators that on one occasion, the boy was bound to a chair, placed inside a shower and doused with pepper spray. He was allegedly left tied up in the bathroom for an hour, heaving and struggling for air, his nose bleeding from violently shaking his head to clear his nostrils.
On another occasion, the defendants allegedly encircled the 13-year-old during a Bible study session in Remmers’ garage. He said they directed him to remove his shirt, according to Voorhees.
He alleged Remmers took a pair of pliers, pinched Jacob’s left nipple and twisted it until the boy “cried out for him to stop.” A witness later told investigators that he overhead the defendant say, “If it was up to me, I’d rip off your nipple and take a chunk out of your d–k.”
Under cross, an attorney asked whether the 13-year-old had said he feared for his life while standing in the desert “grave.” The detective replied the youth doubted the men were serious about actually burying him.
Cpl. Margaret Bell, a Corona police officer, is charged separately in the case. She allegedly failed to report the suspected child abuse after she learned about it days before the defendants were arrested.
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