Police Look for More Alleged Victims of Former S.C. Youth Pastor

Joe David Nelms, a former youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church, faces eight felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14.

The Orange County district attorney's office is attempting to identify any possible alleged victims of a former Orange County youth minister and San Clemente resident Joe David Nelms, 47.

Nelms, arrested last week in Lindale, TX, faces eight felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 and could face a maximum sentence of 22 years in state prison if convicted, according to a release from the D.A.'s office.

Nelms, according to the release, is still in custody in Texas on an Orange County warrant and is in the extradition process to face the Orange County charges.

Deputy district attorneys will ask for $200,000 bail at the arraignment, which has yet to be scheduled, the release states.

"In 1993, Nelms met 13-year-old Jane Doe while working as a youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente," the release states. "The defendant was 29 years old at the time. Over a three-year period, Nelms is accused of sexually assaulting the victim at the church and in a car by rubbing her vagina and breasts over and under her clothing."

The D.A.'s release said the unidentified woman told police about the assault this year after a friend encouraged her.

Nelms was a youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente from 1990 to 2000. He was a volunteer Bible study teacher at First Baptist Church in Lindale at the time of his arrest, and a counselor for high school- aged children at Sky Ranch, a Christian camp and ministry.

His whereabouts after leaving San Clemente and prior to arriving in Texas are unknown at this time.

Based on evidence obtained in the investigation, the release states, authorities think Nelms could have additional victims. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is continuing.

Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Lou Gutierrez at 714-347-8794.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.


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