WESTMINSTER, Colo. - A Westminster pastor has been arrested on allegations he sexually assaulted a girl over a three-year period, starting when she was 13 years old, according to court records obtained by 7NEWS.
Gerald Leroy Clark, 51, was arrested by Westminster police Wednesday on investigation of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, involving a pattern of abuse. He appeared in Jefferson County court Thursday where he was advised of his rights and why he was being held, said District Attorney spokeswoman Pam Russell.
Clark was released from jailed in the afternoon after posting a $20,000 bond.
Clark is pastor of Jericho Ministries International, which initially met at the West View Recreation Center in Westminster, but now holds services at the Greenway Club House
in Broomfield, court records state.
The investigation began Feb. 23, when a former Colorado woman who now lives in Wisconsin called Westminster police to report that her teenage daughter had just told her that Gerald Clark had sexually abused her from the fall of 2009 until the summer of 2012, according to an arrest affidavit.
The mother told police that she and her two daughters belonged to the Jericho Ministries church when they lived in Colorado and they became very close with Clark and his wife.
The mother said her daughter was 13 years old in 2009, and she viewed Clark as a father figure, even calling him "daddy."
The girl aspired to be a member of the church's ministry team and she began helping out the pastor and his wife at their Westminster home.
The girl said the sexual abuse began when she was sitting alone on the stairs in Clark's home and he walked up, bent over and kissed her on the mouth for 15 to 20 seconds, the affidavit said. He then just walked up the stairs without saying a word.
After that, "Gerald began escalating things little by little," the girl told police. He went from kissing her to caressing her and grabbing her buttocks and sticking his hand down her shirt and groping her under bra, the affidavit said.
The girl said this made her uncomfortable, but Clark told her, "It's OK, it's just fatherly affection," according to the affidavit.
The girl described one incident while she was washing the dishes in Clark's kitchen. The pastor came up and hugged her and kissed her neck while rubbing his arms on her body, the affidavit said.
The girl said he whispered in her ear, "You're so beautiful," "I love you" and "You're so sexy." And then he simply walked away, the affidavit said.
Because the victim and her sister missed Colorado and their friend here after moving to Wisconsin in February 2011, the girls' mother arranged for them to spend the summers of 2011, 2012 and 2013 at the Clarks' Westminster home, the affidavit said. The girls would also spend several weeks around Christmas with Clark and his wife.
This allowed the pastor to have more time alone with the victim, police said.
The girl said Clark groped her around a campfire, when no one was looking, during a church camping trip in the mountains.
He even groped the girl as she was sitting, wrapped in a blanket during a church movie night event, the affidavit said.
The teen told police she "froze" during the movie night incident, because she had no idea how to move away from Clark without making a scene. But when the film ended, she ran downstairs and broke down and cried, the affidavit said.
The girl told police she began to "shake" and get "queasy" when she the pastor came near her.
The teen would also grab the top of her shirt, clutching it closed with her hands -- "so Gerald couldn't touch her again" -- and saying, "No," the affidavit stated.
In 2012, when the girl turned 16, she asked Clark if they could speak alone.
"I think our relationship is getting a little too close and before something bad happens or someone goes too far…I think we should distance our relationship" the girl told him, the affidavit stated.
Clark told the girl, "Why don’t we come up with a code word if you feel uncomfortable. What about 'guacamole?'" he suggested, according to the affidavit.
She told police that, while she was home in Wisconsin, Clark texted her a photo of a woman in a thong, suggesting that she wear it, the affidavit said.
Clark would also texted her messages, including, "I miss your body" and "Can't wait to have you back in my arms," the girl told investigators.
The teen said the abuse ended in 2012 when she confronted Clark about it and he became "distant and unfriendly" and "rude" toward her.
The girl said she decided to speak out because she feared other girls in the church might be abused.
A Westminster detective noted in the affidavit that Clark was listed as a suspect in a report of unlawful sexual contact in 2012. It's unclear what happened to the report.
During the investigation, a woman told investigators she left Jericho Ministries church because she felt uncomfortable about repeatedly seeing Clark kiss teen girls on the lips and having girls sit on his lap while he rubbed their backs, the affidavit stated. The woman said she felt uncomfortable when Clark once rubbed her back and kissed her on the cheek.
The woman said when she spoke with Clark and his wife about these "inappropriate situations," the couple explained "he was just showing the girls a 'father's love,'" according to the affidavit.
On March 20, a detective interviewed Gerald Clark at the Westminster Police Department.
The pastor said he did not recall kissing any female members of his congregation on the mouth or touching them in a sexual manner.
When the detective confronted Clark about texting photographs of partially clothed women to girls the pastor said he wanted to exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the affidavit said.
When the detective asked Clark about sending text messages saying, "You're so sexy" and "I miss your body," the pastor said "those messages were inappropriate and should not have been done," the affidavit stated.
Clark also stated the word "guacamole" was offered to the girl so she could use the word if she felt uncomfortable. But he didn't say what caused the decision to use the word, the affidavit said.
As the pastor left the police station, the detective said, Clark shook his hand and said, "You know, we all do things that we regret," according to the affidavit.
Anyone with additional information on this case is asked to contact the Westminster Police Department at 303-658-4243.
*Editor's Note: In her television report, which is also attached to this story, 7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson incorrectly said Clark was a pastor at Victory Church until 2005. In fact, Clark was the leader of a small bible study group at the church but not a pastor.