GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — The founder of a Florida church was arrested and charged with 11 counts of sexual battery, among other crimes, on Tuesday.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said deputies began looking into Lorenzo L. Crawford, 54, after accusations of child abuse at the Christian Coalition Family Church surfaced.
“Crawford refers to himself as an ‘apostle’, but we assure you that his alleged actions are far from that of anyone associated with religion,” Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson said.
A child told a family member that another child was being sexually abused by a church member, according to a post on the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. After family member told Crawford about the alleged abuse, he summoned the child to his office without their parents present.
The sheriff’s office said Crawford scolded the child about “minding their own business” and had them go down to their knees and pull of their pants. Crawford allegedly beat the child on the lower body with the entire length of a belt.
“This act caused significant bleeding and four months later, has still left significant markings on the juvenile victim,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.
Crawford was charged with aggravated child abuse in connection to the incident and arrested on Tuesday, but as the sheriff’s office wrote: “This investigation is not over.”
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office issued a follow-up post detailing additional criminal charges for Crawford. He was charged with 11 counts of sexual battery (adult victim) and one count of aggravated assault.
Deputies did not provide additional information about the new charges.
According to the sheriff’s office, “Watson stated that in his over 20 years of law enforcement, Crawford is one of the most heinous and vile human beings he has ever seen, as the acts he committed not only created physical and emotional scars for the victims, but it also created a spiritual void and an immense amount of doubt in people who believed in the church.”