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John Ward, pastor of Bellview Baptist Church in Westlake, Louisiana, stands accused of 10 counts of first-degree rape, 40 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, and two counts of pornography involving a juvenile.
A tip led to an investigation and arrest of a 45-year-old Westlake man on multiple sex crime charges involving juveniles.
An anonymous called contacted the state Dept. of Child & Family Services’ tip line. On June 17, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested John Michael Ward.
Ward reportedly admitted to detectives he had been molesting an 11-year-old girl since 2017 when she was 9 years old. Ward reportedly also told detectives he videoed the victim while she was nude on two separate occasions, authorities said.
District Judge Sharon Wilson set Ward’s bond at $640,000.
Bellview Baptist Church leaders are cooperating fully with the Sheriff’s office in the investigation. The Deacons, in consultation with Carey Baptist Association, unanimously voted to immediately terminate Ward’s employment with the congregation because of his sexual immorality and failure to maintain the high standard of integrity for the office of Pastor outlined in the Bible.
Church leaders immediately met with the victim’s family to minister to them in their grief and to offer to help underwrite the counseling needed to help the child and other members of the household to heal.
The Deacons also offered to continue to provide financial support to the wife of the fired pastor as well as to minister to the spiritual and emotional needs of her and her family.
The Carey Baptist Association and the Louisiana Baptist Convention have connected with church leaders to coordinate various resources that are available to the church in meeting these various commitments.
Bellview Baptist Church leaders request prayer, respect, and privacy as we process this traumatic event.