LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – A Lawrenceville church youth pastor was arrested this week after being accused of sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl.
Authorities said that Nicholas Kelley, 34, who was until Dec. 27 a youth pastor at New Bridges Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., began a relationship with the teenager when he was her counselor in December 2015.
Police said this summer, that relationship turned sexual, and took place at the church and in parks in throughout Gwinnett County.
The relationship came to light when the teenaged victim snuck out of her house to be with Kelley on Dec. 26, and had a nervous breakdown, because she was fearful, police say, that her parents would find out about the relationship.
She was taken to the hospital for her breakdown and that’s when, police said, her parents uncovered the relationship that she was having with Kelley.
The next day, Kelley met with the pastoral staff at New Bridges Church and also told them about the relationship. Church elders said Kelley admitted that he did have “inappropriate physical interactions” with her.
“In this meeting the accused student pastor admitted to varying degrees of inappropriate physical interaction with the student,” Jeff Lyle, the church’s pastor said in a statement on behalf of the Elders of New Bridge Church, regarding the now-former middle school pastor.
“After agreeing to surrender himself to the local authorities to begin the process of facing the charges against him, the police were called and they took the student pastor into their custody at the church office.”
Kelley is being held without bond, charged with child molestation, statutory rape and aggravated sexual battery.
“We are confident that this was an isolated incident and no other students were involved,” Lyle said.
Lyle also noted that the sexual activities police referred to in the charges against the former youth pastor happened outside of church meetings and events. Furthermore, Kelley was immediately fired from his role with the church, Lyle noted.
“The goal is to learn the full truth of what has occurred, and to continue to respond accordingly as we provide care for the victim and her family, and also for the family of the accused,” Lyle continued in the statement.
If anyone has any information to share in this case, or if there is a need to report a separate incident, police are asking that you contact the Special Victims Unit at (770) 513-5300.