A youth pastor who has worked with minors in San Clemente and in Texas was in custody Friday on charges that he molested an underage girl 15 years ago, officials said.
Now 47, Joe David Nelms was taken into custody in Lindale, Texas, on suspicion of molesting a girl for three years beginning in 1993. Authorities said Nelms molested the girl in his former home, car and in a church office in Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente, where he worked as a youth pastor.
Investigators with the Orange County Sheriff's Department are looking to extradite Nelms to Orange County to face charges, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the department.
Investigators began to investigate the allegations March 4, when the victim came forward to officials, Amormino said.
"She said ever since the abuse, she wanted to tell somebody, but she never had the strength," Amormino said.
The victim lived in San Clemente when the abuse took place, but she now lives on the East Coast, Amormino said. She was under 14 when it took place.
The victim contacted and told a former youth counselor of the abuse March 4, and it was she who urged the victim to come forward, Amormino said.
Nelms was working as a volunteer teacher at First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, until recently, he said. He was also working at Sky Ranch, a Christian camp for kids and families.
"A long time has passed, but the statute of limitations was waived because of substantial sexual conduct and the age difference," Amormino said. Authorities were also able to corroborate several of the claims, he said.
Amormino said the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Texas demanded Nelms quit his duties and Sky Ranch when he learned of the allegations.
Nelms is in custody at Smith County jail.