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.
Lindsey Melnick, pastor of Breakthrough Church in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, stands accused of sexually assaulting a fifteen-year-old girl.
Police charged a Perry County church pastor with four felonies after a woman told police she was molested 10 years ago by the pastor when she was 15.
Pennsylvania State Police arrested Lindsey Melnick, 36, on Monday in connection with charges of statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and unlawful contact of a minor. The charges allege Melnick sexually assaulted the teen several times a week for about one year starting in August 2011.
At the time, Melnick was about 26 and had been the girl’s soccer coach at a school and a church counselor at summer camp, according to court records.
Melnick is listed as the pastor of the Breakthrough Church in Duncannon, according to the church website.
Her next court hearing was set for Jan. 11. She is free on $15,000 unsecured bail.
According to the report filed by the Pennsylvania State Police:
A woman told police in July she felt she was “manipulated and groomed” by Melnick when they first met in 2010, and also a teacher aide for most of her classes while she was in eighth grade.
They would pass a notebook back and forth during class, Melnick gave her a cell phone, and they communicated by that cell phone and through Facebook, including a “fake” account that Melnick allegedly created under the name Sophia Martin, according to police.
The victim said if she didn’t answer phone calls from Melnick, the woman would become angry with her so she felt she had to take her calls. Melnick also snuck into her parents’ home dozens of times using a hidden key, the court records said. Melnick would hide under her bed, the girl said.
Eventually, the girl said, she started sleeping on her parents’ floor to avoid Melnick.
Melnick eventually became controlling of “every aspect of her life,” according to court records, which said Melnick resigned from the school soccer team because teachers and staff members “were catching on” to what was going on.
Melnick would pick her up from her friends’ homes or events and take her to a graveyard.
A youth group teammate confirmed to police in July that she saw Melnick giving the girl a back massage at an event at someone’s home when they were 14 to 15 years old, according to the report.
The teammate said Melnick spent the night and when she would leave the room to get a drink of water or something, she would return to see Melnick on top of the victim, giving the girl a back massage. But when she entered the room, Melnick would “stop what she was doing and act like nothing had happened,” according to the report written by police.
Police recovered Facebook messages from the account of “Sophia Martin” in December 2011 to the girl that said she was angered “about how you were torn away from me.”
Melnick’s church bio page states:
Lindsey Melnick is a 2008 gradute [sic] of Colorado Christian Univeristy [sic] and a 2019 graduate of Liberty Univeristy [sic]. She has degrees in both Youth Ministry and Professional Counseling. This blend of Biblical knowledge and Mental Health training allows her to have a good balance of Scriptural teaching and counseling.
She has a passion for sharing Jesus with all, discipling believers, and helping people heal spiritually. She focuses on Bibilical [sic] teaching, Youth Ministry, and Outreach opportunities.
She loves Penn State Football, her dogs [sic] Scout and Sherlock, and all types of pasta, especially Mac & Cheese. If you would like to get ahold of Lindsey please e-mail her at XXXXXXXXX.
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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