Married pastor who raped girl, 17, inside church says

A married Tennessee pastor with kids is accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in the men’s bathroom in church.

46-year-old James "Ronnie" Messer, the pastor of a Newport church, is accused of raping the teenager at Crossway Worship Center. He was arrested Saturday night after the girl's family reported him.

The girl told police she rode with Messer to the Crossway Worship Center in Newport. She said the two entered the church and went into a room, where Messer began flirting with her and asked her several times to take off her clothes, which she initially refused to do. The girl said she felt scared and, at Messer's direction, took off her clothes and laid on the floor, where Messer had sex with her.
The girl then told police that she and Messer went to the Hartford area to swim, but the water was too muddy and swift, so Messer took her to an undisclosed location.

A detective interviewed Messer and he admitted having sex with the girl, but said the sex was consensual.

Messer was taken into custody and transferred to the Cocke County Jail. He faces charges of statutory rape, forcible rape, and aggravated sexual battery by an authority figure.

He was released on bond on Tuesday.
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