January 5, 2010

Ex-Post Falls church youth leader arrested

Charged with having sex with underage girls
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Kootenai County Sheriff's Department photo

Jordan Vernon, 20, is accused of having sex with at least two girls ages 14 and 17, and having inappropriate contact with at least two others ages 12 and 14 while serving as a youth leader in training at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls from 2007 to 2009.
(Full-size photo)

A former Post Falls church youth leader was arrested last week on suspicion he had sexual and inappropriate contact with several minor girls from the congregation.

Another man was also arrested for allegedly trying to intimidate a witness in the case, said Post Falls police detective Sgt. Dave Beck.

Jordan Vernon, 20, is accused of having sex with at least two girls, ages 14 and 17, and having inappropriate contact with at least two others, ages 12 and 14, while serving as a youth leader in training at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls from 2007 to 2009.

Vernon was arrested Dec. 28 on charges of sexual battery of a minor child under the age of 16, lewd conduct with a minor child under the age of 16, and statutory rape for having sexual intercourse with a child under 18, among other charges, police said.

According to authorities, Vernon has a history of grooming young girls at the church, beginning in December 2007, when he was investigated for inappropriately touching a 12-year-old girl during church services and sending inappropriate text messages to a 14-year-old church member.

Vernon allegedly pressed the 12-year-old “to sneak out of the house,” to be with him, Beck said. Vernon was charged with a misdemeanor in that case, which was later dismissed, Beck said.

In September 2009, a church youth pastor contacted authorities about additional cases of inappropriate conduct involving Vernon.

He is alleged to have had sex with a 14-year-old church member in December 2007, Beck said. At the time Vernon was 18 or 19 years old and was a student leader in training at the church.

Beck said Vernon would give the girl rides to church, and that the pair once had sex in his car. Vernon took photos of the girl performing oral sex on him and posted the photos on a MySpace page under the pseudonym “Frank,” Beck said.

Another victim, a church member who is now 17, also allegedly had sex with Vernon in the summer of 2009. He had known the girl since she was 14 but did not become sexually active with her until she was 17, Beck said. The age of consent in Idaho is 18.

“I’m concerned there might be more victims,” Beck said. “His behavior is what I would call predatory in nature.”

Vernon posted $25,000 bond after being booked into the Kootenai County Jail last week, Beck said.

Luke Denman, 28, a relative of Vernon, was also arrested for intimidating a witness. Denman allegedly went to the church after learning authorities planned to arrest Vernon and threatened a church member, Beck said.


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