SAN CLEMENTE (CBS) — A church volunteer was arrested in Texas Friday on suspicion of molesting a San Clemente girl more than 15 years ago.
Joe David Nelms, 47, of Lindale, Texas, allegedly molested the girl between 1993 and 1996, starting when the girl was under 14, Orange County Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Armomino said. At the time, the girl lived with her family in San Clemente and attended Pacific Coast church.
The victim, who is now in her 30s, went to authorities March 4 after working up the courage, Armomino said. The woman said she reached out to a former youth counselor who advised her to make a police report.
The woman says Nelms molested her in a church office, while driving around San Clemente and in his home in San Clemente, Armomino said.
At the time of his arrest, Nelms worked as a volunteer teacher for high school students at the First Baptist Church of Lindale. He also worked with high school students at Sky Ranch, a company that hosts retreats, Armomino said. Nelms was forced to resign from his pastor job when the senior pastor became aware of the allegations.
Nelms was arrested by Lindale police on suspicion of lewd acts with a child and is being held in the Smith County jail without bail, pending extradition to Orange County.
Although the alleged acts occurred more than 10 years ago, prosecutors are seeking to have the statute of limitations waived because investigators believe there was “substantial contact,” the girl was underage and the age difference between the alleged molester and victim, he said.
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