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Youth pastor indicted - Odessa American: News

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Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 12:00 am

An Ector County grand jury has indicted a local youth pastor on 10 felony counts, charging him with having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl he counseled at Second Baptist Church of Odessa.

Robert John Weber, 44, 2142 Bonham Ave., was arrested Dec. 29 and released from the Ector County Detention Center the same day on $50,000 bond.

The grand jury last month returned a true bill charging Weber with nine counts of sexual assault of a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child. The indictment details three sexual encounters Weber reportedly had with the girl in August and October in which he received and performed oral sex.

The pastor of Second Baptist Church, the Rev. Randy S. Duckett, declined to comment Tuesday but issued a typed statement: “We have been aware of the situation from the beginning and have re-assigned Mr. Weber to a different ministry within our church. In order for me to be able to pastor the entire church through this matter, I cannot make any further comments.”

Contacted at his home Tuesday, Weber deferred comment to his attorney, Jason Leach of Odessa. Leach declined to comment on the indictment, saying he would prefer to try the case in the courtroom and not the media.

In a phone interview, the 15-year-old’s mother said she was happy to learn of the indictment but unsatisfied with the church’s reaction.

“The parents need to know that there’s a man in the church that’s been indicted,” she said, adding the sexual encounters took place inside the church.

The mother, whom the Odessa American is not identifying to protect the identity of her daughter, said she did not know about the relationship until police contacted her. She said Weber harassed her daughter with text messages and led her to believe he would divorce his wife and marry her.

“She’s 15, but she still plays with toys and plastic animals,” the mother said of her daughter.

Court records show Weber has not yet been assigned a court date.

District Attorney Bobby Bland declined to comment on the matter.

Church members meanwhile have expressed disbelief over the charges and pledged to support Weber through the legal process, said Dena Ward, who attends Second Baptist and has known Weber for more than three years.

“Everybody was shocked, and nobody believed it,” Ward said of a recent announcement in church of the allegations. “Everybody that I have talked to is 100 percent standing behind him.”

Ward said Weber has counseled her 13-year-old son for the past two years and helped him through great difficulty.

“He’s an excellent youth pastor. My son’s able to talk to him about anything,” she said. “He’s at that age where he doesn’t want to talk to me.”

Odessa, TX

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