KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee pastor was arrested Saturday and charged with aggravated statutory rape and sexual battery by an authority figure, according to a Newport Police Department report.
James “Ronnie” Messer was arrested at 11 p.m. Saturday after a family told police a 17-year-old girl had been raped by the pastor.
The girl’s sister reportedly told police the 17-year-old girl rode with the pastor to a worship center, after their plans to go swimming in the Hartford area were derailed by swift and muddy water.
The pastor reportedly led the girl through the center’s rear entrance to a room across from the men’s restroom where he raped her.
Messer told police he thought the assault against the underage girl was consensual, according to the report. He was subsequently transferred to the Cocke County jail.