Lakeland youth pastor accused of trying to have sex with minor, sheriff says

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — A youth pastor in Lakeland is facing multiple charges after allegedly attempting to have sex with a member of his youth group, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Grady Judd said the pastor, 29-year-old Andrew Weaver, worked for the Highlands Church of Christ. The church notified authorities of the situation when they learned of the misbehavior.

Weaver was informally counseling the girl when he asked for nude photos from the girl and spoke about sexual fantasies with her, according to Judd.

“Instead of being the appropriate counselor in the room, he creates a relationship with a 17-year-old child,” Judd said. “Did I tell you he was 29 and married and a youth pastor?”

Judd said he eventually took the minor to a hotel in Mulberry, but a maid knocked on the door, stopping the encounter before it turned into a case of sexual battery.

The pastor then took the teenager back to the church.

“(The maid) was an angel that day because it freaked him out, and the rest of that inappropriate counseling session didn’t take place,” he said.

“Andrew, Jesus don’t like that,” Judd said, addressing the defendant. “I’d go so far to say he’s pissed.”

Highlands Church of Christ released a statement on the matter, saying they are cooperating with the authorities:

Last week we became aware of allegations of our Student Minister being involved in criminal conduct and we reported this to the Florida Department of Children and Family and to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department.  His employment has been terminated and we are cooperating with the investigation being conducted by the Sheriff’s office.  We are devastated by what has occurred and we are praying for healing for our church and for those involved.

 The Elders of the Highlands Church of Christ

The pastor now faces charges for attempted unlawful sex with a minor and interference with child custody.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss