New claim possible against youth leader
Another teenager has come forward claiming to have been victimized by a former Post Falls church volunteer, police confirmed Wednesday.
Jordan Vernon, 20, arrested last week on suspicion he had sexual and inappropriate contact with several minor girls he met while serving as a youth group volunteer at Real Life Ministries, may face additional charges, Post Falls police said.
“If anything, it would be one more count of statutory rape,” said Detective Sgt. Dave Beck.
Beck said new information has been forwarded to the prosecutor’s office for review.
The newest report came from a 16-year-old girl who is not affiliated with the church, Beck said. She is a friend of an alleged victim who is a member of the congregation.
Vernon was arrested Dec. 28, 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, from 2007 to 2009. Police believe he met and began grooming the girls while serving as a youth leader in training at Real Life Ministries.
Vernon posted $25,000 bond after being booked into the Kootenai County Jail last week.
On Wednesday, church elder Ben Wolfinger, also a spokesman for the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, wrote a statement on behalf of the church leadership.
In his e-mail to the 7,000 plus members of the congregation, Wolfinger praised members and church leadership for coming forward with the allegations that Vernon had inappropriate contact with several female youth.
“We commend the dedicated staff and volunteers from youth ministries and the safety and security team for doing the right thing, following God’s Word, and taking allegations of criminal misconduct to the police and letting them deal with it appropriately,” Wolfinger wrote.
While none of the alleged sex offenses occurred on church campus, Vernon was charged with misdemeanor simple battery in 2008, after reports he inappropriately touched a 12-year-old girl during church services. Vernon was also alleged to have sent inappropriate text messages to the girl. The charges were dropped.
Wolfinger said in his written statement that Vernon was dismissed from his volunteer positions, including with the church youth group, in July 2008. According to church records, Vernon has not attended the church since November 2008.