The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
In 2017, Jordan Baird, director of music and youth pastor (the church disputes the charge that Baird was its youth pastor) at The Life Church in Manassas, Virginia was arrested on charges of “indecent liberties with a child by a custodian” and “sexual offense with a minor by computer.”
A new jury trial date has been set for Jordan Baird, the Warrenton-based pop star and son of Manassas megachurch leaders accused of having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl in his congregation.
Baird, 27, is facing seven counts of indecent liberties with a child by a custodian and was recently indicted for one count of sexual offense with a minor by computer. The former model was scheduled for trial Sept. 6, but the trial was postponed after someone came forward the night before it was to begin with a recording of the victim reportedly making her first allegation against Baird at a prayer circle, according to court records.
Both the prosecution and the defense agreed they needed time to process the new evidence.
Baird is now schedule to face a jury trial Jan. 8 through Jan. 10 in Prince William County Circuit Court.
All of the charges Baird face relate to one victim who attended The Life Church. The new indictment is based on the same set of facts, but a new legal theory, according to attorneys in the case.
Prosecutors will likely try to introduce testimony from other women who say Baird used his position of power in the church to make sexual advances toward them, according to a motion filed by Fredericksburg Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kevin Gross, who has been appointed special prosecutor in the case. The motion does not stipulate if the women were underage at the time of the alleged encounters.
Baird is accused of touching the victim and asking her to touch his genitals, among other allegations, according to a criminal complaint filed in circuit court
Baird has maintained he is innocent since the allegations went public, according to his attorneys.
Prosecutors say Baird was a youth pastor at The Life Church in Manassas and was in a supervisory role over the girl during several alleged acts of sexual abuse between January and September 2015.
However, his attorneys say Baird was the church’s director of music and was never employed as a youth pastor.
A second teenage victim has claimed a 25-year-old church employee had inappropriate sexual contact, exposed himself and made inappropriate statements inside a popular Manassas church.
Jordan Baird, of Warrenton was charged Tuesday with one count of indecent liberties by a custodian, in addition to two previous counts of the same charge, after incidents at the Life Church, located on Balls Ford Road in Manassas.
A 17-year-old victim came forward, after media reports of Jordan Baird’s arrest for inappropriately touching a 16-year-old female on more than one occasion between January and September of 2015, according to Prince William County police.
Jordan Baird is the middle son of the church’s senior pastor, David Baird.
“Jordan is the worship director of the church — he oversees the music for all of our services,” his father told WTOP.
The father disagreed with the notion that Jordan Baird is a youth pastor.
“The charge said he was a youth pastor, and that’s what’s been reported by the media,” said David Baird. “We’ve not been able to tell our side of that — Jordan has never been a pastor in our church.”
The senior Baird said the charge facing his son is not appropriate, given his son’s employment in the church.
“He’s not ordained as a pastor,” said David. “He’s an employee of the church, but he’s not a pastor, and he’s not the youth pastor of the church.
“That’s very important because the charge said he was in a custodial oversight of these students,” David said. “He was not in a custodial position over these students.”
David said he first heard of the police investigation into his son in July when Prince William County detectives came to the church asking if he had heard allegations that Jordan had been sending inappropriate text messages.
“The church was made aware by the parents of the first victim that there was improper texting by Jordan to the 16-year-old in 2014,” said David. “Immediately the church put Jordan on a leave of absence, pending its own internal inquiry.”
David said he recused himself from the church’s inquiry into his son’s activities.
“The outcome of the internal inquiry was that no criminal activity had occurred, but we have kept Jordan on a leave of absence, pending the outcome of the legal investigation,” said David, referring to the criminal charges against his son.
According to a January 12, 2018 news report, Baird was found guilty. InsideNoVa reports:
The Prince William County Circuit Court jury found 26-year-old Jordan David Baird guilty on five counts of indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian, delivering the verdict Jan. 11 after two days of deliberations. The jury declined to convict Baird on two other counts of the same crime, in addition to a charge of electronic solicitation of a minor.
Prosecutors described Baird as a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” over the course of a three-day trial, accusing him of repeatedly groping and propositioning a 16-year-old girl who worshipped with him at the Life Church in Manassas. Baird’s father, David, is the lead pastor of the large church, while Jordan Baird helped coordinate music services and mentor young people.
Fredericksburg Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kevin Gross, who was tabbed as a special prosecutor in the case, told the jury that Baird “exploited” his relationship with the girl to abuse her, and “thought he could get away with it” because he was the son of a powerful church leader.
The teen, who is now 19, testified that Baird repeatedly groped her at the church over the course of 2015, including two incidents where he rubbed his genitals against her body. She also detailed his history of propositioning her for sex through messages in a trivia app.
InsideNoVa is not identifying the girl because she is a victim of sexual assault.
Baird’s attorney, Todd Sanders, argued that those messages “did cross an emotional line,” but didn’t amount to a crime. He also suggested to the jury that the girl’s story was unreliable, as she initially told church leaders that Baird touched her leg, and only later provided more graphic details to police.
In particular, Sanders argued that the girl’s family likely pressured her into embellishing her story, considering the rift that these accusations prompted with the Baird family. He also claimed there was “absolutely no corroboration” for the teen’s claims.
But Gross pushed back forcefully against Sanders’ claims in his closing argument, noting that the girl had “everything to lose” by accusing Baird of misconduct. He noted that she had attended the church since she was 7, and considered the Bairds a “second family.”
“She knew the defendant for years; this was not some random guy groping her,” Gross said. “This is where she grew up. She spent the formative years of her life at the church. You can understand why she didn’t want to come forward immediately.”
Gross also pointed to Baird’s long history of sexually suggestive messages to the teen as evidence of his intent. He convinced the girl to download the “Trivia Crack” app, then used it to frequently ask her if he could be her “first kiss” or “first time,” urging her to meet him in a hotel room so as to avoid suspicion from his wife.
On February 21, 2018, Baird was sentenced to eight months in prison. Prince Williams Times reported:
A former youth leader of a Manassas megachurch who was convicted of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl in his congregation was sentenced to spend eight months in jail today.
Prosecutors allege Jordan Baird, 26, of Warrenton, used his position as the son of the leader of the Life Church and as a Christian pop singer to manipulate young girls and women into having inappropriate relationships with him. Baird was found guilty of five counts of indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian, all of which were related to one victim, after a four-day jury trial in Prince William County Circuit Court. Jurors recommended Baird serve five months in jail for those convictions.
The jury couldn’t reach a verdict on one charge—using electronic means to commit a sex crime with a minor. As part of a plea deal, the charge was amended to electronic solicitation of a minor and Baird pleaded no contest to it today.
“You kept me silent for a year-and-a-half and I want you to know you no longer have control over me,” the victim said during Baird’s sentencing hearing. “This is not your story. This is my story and I will use it to help other victims. You picked the wrong girl to mess with. Thank you for empowering me to stand up and fight for what is worth fighting for.”
Prosecutors said Baird is a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” who groomed the girl for abuse, sent her sexually-suggestive messages and groped her multiple times at the Life Church between January and September 2015. The teen testified during the trial she refused Baird’s unwanted sexual advances and told him what he was doing was wrong on more than one occasion.
Judge Burke F. McCahill sentenced Baird to five years in jail, with all but three months suspended for the solicitation charge and five months for all of the indecent liberties charges. McCahill said the law did not allow him to impose a higher sentence than the one the jury recommended, even though the state sentencing guidelines were between one and five years in prison for each indecent liberties charge.
During the trial, Special Prosecutor David Gross tried to introduce the testimonies of three other women who say Baird used his power in the church and his notoriety as a Christian pop singer to manipulate them into having inappropriate relationships and performing sex acts in the church. One of the girls was underage at the time of the alleged misconduct, the prosecutor said. But the judge wouldn’t allow the women’s testimonies because he said the information would be highly prejudicial in the criminal trial, citing case law.
According to testimony presented at trial, the girl’s family initially asked the church to bring in a third-party to investigate what took place. But the church selected Steve Dawson, a close friend of the Bairds’ who was once a co-pastor at the church who does not have a background in law enforcement or investigations.
Gross suggested Dawson left out key details he learned during his internal investigation when he was interviewed by police and refused to hand his notes over to law-enforcement officials. Gross also suggested the Life Church’s law firm instructed Dawson through his investigation.
The teen’s father said he recorded a meeting with Dawson in which he told the pastor Baird touched his daughter. On the stand, Dawson said he didn’t “recall” the father saying this.
The girl and her family said they have been “shunned” by the church since they came forward. They said the teen’s childhood friends were “stolen” from her and she was mocked and ridiculed by people she once considered family.
“Many people have abandoned them to align with you,” said McCahill as he handed down his sentence. “They were victimized a second time by this.”
In February 2019, Baird pleaded guilty to new charges of taking indecent liberties with a minor while in a supervisory position. He was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison.
Kevin Gross, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, argued that Baird used his position in the church, including having family in leadership positions, to prey on his victim and her family. Baird’s father was a pastor and founder of the church and his family continues to serve in leadership roles at Life Church.
The victim testified that she has known Baird since she was 13 years old, and he would inappropriately give her back rubs and whisper to her. InsideNoVa is not identifying the victim.
In late 2014, Baird was teaching music to the girl at the church. He was 23 at the time, and she was 16. The victim said Baird was waiting for his wife to leave.
“Once he saw his wife leave he closed the blinds,” the victim said.
The victim said Baird exposed himself and forced her to touch his penis.
Later, he asked her in messages if she wanted to do that again and she said no. He replied, “me neither.”
Gross argued that Baird’s messages were manipulative, because he believes Baird’s intent was to solicit further contact with the victim.
Prosecutors called 13 witnesses to speak about how Baird’s actions affected their lives, including the victim, her family members and a psychologist who evaluated Baird.
The victim told the court she didn’t have a normal high school experience due to Baird’s actions, and she thinks his abuse prevented her from having good grades in high school and attending college.
“I will not be the same person,” she said. “I can’t get the feeling of being scared to go away.”
The victim’s mother said “nothing will change the damage that’s been done.”
“It’s been five years and my daughter has been suffering nonstop,” the mother said, noting her daughter had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to Baird’s abuse.
Another woman, now 22, testified that Baird sent her a message when she was 17 that said he was home alone from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. At the time, the girl said she would not go to his home and said it was an inappropriate thing to ask. Jordan Baird apologized and asked her to delete the messages.
Gross asked the woman why she didn’t report the incident. She said it was because her family attended the church and she didn’t want them to stop attending.
Susan Frank, a licensed clinical psychologist who evaluated Baird, testified that Baird had an abnormal sexual attraction to late adolescents. He needs treatment and has an average to above average risk of reoffending, Frank said.
Frank said Baird groomed his victims to get them alone and take advantage of their trust.
“He was their teacher, pastor and paying them special attention,” Frank said
Baird told the court, “I am trying to change,I sincerely apologize to [the victim]. I was irresponsible and selfish. I hope this doesn’t affect your faith. It’s not the Lord’s fault, not other people’s fault, it’s my fault.”
I find it interesting that Evangelicals tell unbelievers that Jesus is the cure for what ails them, yet Jesus was unable to help Jordan Baird. What is that, I wonder?