Thursday, February 2, 2012
Michigan Pastor arrested for sexually assaulting two girls
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A well-known former West Michigan pastor is now facing criminal charges.
In the summer of 2011, Newschannel 3 broke the story that Milton Wells was under investigation and was resigning from his post at two local organizations. Now, he's facing ten counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Wells was very involved in community issues, including homelessness, fighting neighborhood crime and helping felons re-enter society. Now the community leader is facing criminal charges himself.
Newschannel 3 has learned the alleged victims were both members of Open Door Ministries, that Wells had led at one point. Both girls were under the age of twelve when the alleged incidents occurred.
Wells is now facing two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct as well as eight counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct.
Newschannel 3 spoke to the mother of one of the alleged victims on the phone. She did not want her name used in order to protect her daughter's identity.
“We regret that a dark shadow has been cast upon the church, but this is something that can't be overlooked or swept away,” said the mother. “We want there to be awareness of being an advocate for your children and protecting your children in any case.”
Newschannel 3 found a church member at Open Door Ministries on Thursday, but she did not wish to speak to us.
Wells is currently out of jail, his bail set at $10,000.
Newschannel 3 stopped at his home, but he did not wish to speak on camera, referring us to his Lansing attorney.
That attorney said Wells is presumed innocent, but wouldn't comment further.
Because Wells was so actively involved in Kalamazoo-based community programs, the case is being handled by a visiting prosecutor from Calhoun County to avoid a conflict of interest.
Meanwhile the mother of one alleged victim says they have been waiting for months to see these charges finally brought.
“Our families are very hurt, angry and disappointed at how things have come to the forefront,” said the mother. “How a man that we trusted, not only spiritually but naturally, manipulated not only our children but our families.”
Wells' next scheduled court appearance is February 9th.