RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — The former pastor of a Perris church was formally charged Thursday in the rape of a female congregation member.

Jerome Anthony Clay Sr., 41, of Perris was arrested in March after a young woman alleged she had been assaulted by the defendant.

Clay resigned as pastor of the Compassion Life Church at 190 E. 5th St. upon his arrest. He is scheduled for arraignment Friday at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

He is free on $110,000 bail, authorities said.

City News Service said they could not reach Clay for comment but that the church’s interim pastor, Jerry Vaughan, said he found the allegation of rape hard to believe.

He said he’s known Clay for “several” years.

“Hopefully he’s not guilty,” Vaughan said. “That would be nice. All it is right now is an accusation. We’re concerned, obviously, about whether anyone has been potentially harmed. We’re concerned for the community, for the church, and for Jerome’s family.”

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, said the alleged sexual assault took place on Feb. 12, but no details were disclosed. The victim, identified in court papers only as Jane Doe, apparently was among those who attend services at Compassion Life regularly.

Vaughan said the congregation currently numbers about two-dozen people.

“We’re praying for everyone involved,” Vaughan said.

According to court records, Clay has a misdemeanor conviction from 2006 for spousal abuse. He was sentenced to four years probation.


Perris Pastor Accused Of Rape