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Former Pastor Accused of Sexually Assaulting Congregant Arraigned


Thursday, May 8th, 2014
Issue 19, Volume 18.


RIVERSIDE - The former pastor of a Perris church accused of sexually assaulting a female congregant pleaded not guilty today to forcible rape.

Jerome Anthony Clay, 41, of Perris, who is free on $110,000 bail, entered his plea before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Clay was arrested in March after a young woman alleged she had been assaulted by the defendant.

According to sheriff's officials, the alleged assault occurred on Feb. 12, but no details were disclosed. The victim, identified in court papers only as Jane Doe, apparently attended services at Compassion Life Church at 190 E. 5th St.

Until last month, the church listed Clay as its minister, but according to the interim pastor, Jerry Vaughan, he resigned after the sheriff announced his arrest.

Vaughan told City News Service his former colleague ministered at the church for more than two years and some congregants continue to find the allegation against Clay hard to believe.

"Hopefully he's not guilty," Vaughan said last month. "That would be nice. All it is right now is an accusation. We're concerned, obviously, about whether anyone has been potentially harmed. We're concerned for the community, for the church, and for Jerome's family."

According to court records, Clay has a misdemeanor conviction from 2006 for spousal abuse. He was sentenced to four years probation.


Former Perris pastor charged with rape of congregant

RIVERSIDE - The former pastor of a Perris church accused of sexually assaulting a female congregant was charged today with forcible rape.

Jerome Anthony Clay, 41, of Perris was arrested in March after a young woman alleged she had been assaulted by the defendant, who immediately resigned as minister of Compassion Life Church at 190 E. 5th St.

Clay, free on $110,000 bail, was slated to be arraigned tomorrow at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

The former pastor could not immediately be reached for comment, but the church's interim pastor, Jerry Vaughan, who has known Advertisement
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Clay for "several" years, told City News Service that the allegation is hard to believe.

"Hopefully he's not guilty," Vaughan said. "That would be nice. All it is right now is an accusation. We're concerned, obviously, about whether anyone has been potentially harmed. We're concerned for the community, for the church, and for Jerome's family."

According to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, the alleged assault happened on Feb. 12, but no details were disclosed. The victim, identified in court papers only as Jane Doe, apparently was among those who attend services at Compassion Life regularly.

Vaughan said the congregation currently numbers about two-dozen people.

"I don't know this person. But I have purposefully not dug into this," he told City News Service. "We're concerned about anyone who's accusing him. I have not even discussed the matter with Jerome. I can't in any way judge the situation until I know what's going on. Hopefully it's nothing. But if it is, we'll take what comes down the line. The courts will take care of it.

For now, we're praying for everyone involved."

The church's website continues to list Clay as the senior pastor and shows pictures of him ministering in a slideshow on the home page. Vaughan could not confirm how many years the defendant was active at the house of worship, but suggested it was more than two.

According to court records, Clay has a misdemeanor conviction from 2006 for spousal abuse. He was sentenced to four years probation.

There is no indication that he has retained defense counsel in the current case.


RIVERSIDE - The former pastor of a Perris church accused of sexually assaulting a female congregant was charged today with forcible rape.

Jerome Anthony Clay, 41, of Perris, was arrested in March after a woman alleged she had been assaulted by the defendant, who immediately resigned as minister of Compassion Life Church at 190 E. 5th St.

Clay, who is free on $110,000 bail, is slated to be arraigned tomorrow at the Riverside Hall of Justice.


 

3 comments

Comment Profile ImageLesson Here Maybe
Comment #1 | Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm
Who knows if this guy is guilty or innocent, but there is a lesson here that would have avoided this mess (if he is innocent). Anyone in a position of authority and especially those who act as council to others, NEVER be alone with someone of the opposite sex. Always always bring an associate / witness or refer that person to someone of the same sex.
Comment Profile ImageBig O
Comment #2 | Friday, May 9, 2014 at 9:13 am
There should be a screening process before these people that have good speaking and communicating skills claim themselves as pastors, because their are good pastors that send a very good message but people like this guy put doubt in people's minds.
Comment Profile ImageHonesty
Comment #3 | Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 2:10 am
I use to go to that church and we brought it up several times to him about being alone with the opposite sex, he didn't care. Instead pushed us out of the church. Whenever anything was brought to his attention he didn't like and would bad mouth you to others.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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