Pastor, 25, is accused of sexual assault

Star-Telegram/April 5, 2005
By Susan Schrock and Caren M. Penland

A Grand Prairie pastor faces seven charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child after a 12-year-old girl made an outcry to her mother, police said.

Jerry N. Castle Jr., 25, was arrested Thursday night outside Faith Tabernacle Church, where he had been pastor more than two years. Castle is being held in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in Dallas. Bail was set at $350,000.

Early Sunday morning, police investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle said they found Castle kissing a 12-year-old girl inside a parked car a few blocks from her parents' home in north Arlington. Castle was arrested on a parking violation and the girl was released to her parents, who attend the Pentecostal church, police said.

Police began investigating Castle after the girl told her mother that she and the pastor had engaged in sexual activity between March 14 and 18, said Detective John Brimmer, a Grand Prairie police spokesman. The girl told police that the encounters happened at the pastor's home while his wife was away, Brimmer said.

"She was adamant that it was consensual. As you know, 12-year-olds cannot legally give consent," Brimmer said.

The Star-Telegram is not identifying the girl because of her age.

Castle was arrested outside the single-story brick church Thursday night shortly after he arrived at a special meeting to announce his resignation, church member Audrey Fredregill said.

Fredregill's husband, Boyd, said Castle had called him the day before and confided in him about the girl's allegations.

"Brother Jerry did admit that some of this was true but some of it wasn't," Fredregill said. "He was resigning to save the church."

The Fredregills said the small congregation had recently discussed concerns with the girl's mother about the child's apparent crush on the pastor, who is married and has a young son.

"She was hanging all over him at every church service," said the Fredregills' daughter Cordelia Berry.

Berry said Castle has worked hard the past couple years to improve the church facilities and the lives of its congregation, which has about 50 members. News of his arrest and his resignation are difficult to bear, she said.

"We love him and we are standing by him," Berry said, as she and her mother stood crying Friday outside the church. "God forgives and forgets, and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't do the same."

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