Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pastor arrested for attempting to rape a woman

The pastor of a Mesquite church has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman in West Virginia, police said.

Matthew D. Jarrell, 41, of Terrell apparently offered the woman a ride home from a bar in Charleston. Instead, police said, he drove to a secluded area and assaulted her.

He was arrested Thursday morning.

According to the Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, Jarrell has been pastor there since 2004.

West Virginia law enforcement officials said the 36-year-old victim escaped after her attacker’s truck bogged down in mud. After she got to safety, she called police and described her attacker and his vehicle.

When a sheriff’s deputy stopped Jarrell, he originally denied having sex with the woman but later confessed, a criminal complaint says.

“According to family members, Jarrell was supposed to be in Pennsylvania,” Lt. Sean Crosier of the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

Crosier said Jarrell has similar sexual assault charges from 2007 pending in San Antonio. No trial date in that case has been set. The details of the assault allegations were not available Friday.

Open Door Baptist Church is an independent Baptist church of a few hundred members.

According to the church, Jarrell is an Army veteran and is married with four children.

A man identified as Open Door’s associate pastor said Thursday that he had just learned about the allegations against Jarrell.

“I’m just not making comment until I find out what I’ve got to do on this end,” the man said. “I’ve got a lot to deal with here right now.”

A secretary at the church declined to comment Friday.

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