[UPDATED with Not Guilty Plea:] Joe David Nelms, Former Pastor, Accused of Molesting Girl in 1993

Categories: Crime-iny
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UPDATE, APRIL 9, 10:16 A.M.: 47-year-old Joe David Nelms pleaded not guilty Friday to eight felony counts related to the sexual assault of a then-14-year-old girl he met while serving as a youth pastor in San Clemente in 1993.

Nelms, who was extradited to Orange County from Texas, returned to Orange County Jail after the arraignment hearing. He is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail pending a pretrial hearing and bail review scheduled for May 2.

He could get up to 22 years in state prison if convicted of the charges of molesting the girl over a three-year period in his car, home and Pacific Coast Church office.

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"Oh, Coker . . ."
UPDATE, MARCH 31, 4:27 P.M.: The original version of this post has been corrected. At one point, the previous version referred to David Montano, who was picked up in Coto de Caza earlier this month on a child-molestation arrest warrant out of Turlock, as a "horse trainer." Later in the same item, the 45-year-old was identified as a "horse groomer" at Coto Valley Equestrian Center. Both descriptions are false.

Montano formerly worked as a groomer for
Cinnabar Equestrian Operations, LLC, which manages Coto Valley Equestrian Center. His employment was terminated last year. He was never one of the center's professional horse trainers.

OC Weekly and your gentle servant regret the errors.


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UPDATE, MARCH 23, 11:39 A.M.: The Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) is reaching out to the public to find potential victims of a former Orange County youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old female parishioner in 1993. Joe David Nelms, 47, who is awaiting extradition in a Texas jail cell, allegedly molested the girl over a three-year period in his car, home and office at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente.

March 23, 2011

OCDA SEEKS PUBLIC'S HELP IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL ADDITIONAL VICTIMS OF YOUTH PASTOR WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED 14-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PARISHIONER IN 1993

SANTA ANA - The Orange County District Attorney's Office is seeking the public's help identifying potential additional victims of a former Orange County youth pastor who sexually assaulted a 14-year-old female parishioner in 1993. Joe David Nelms, 47, Formerly of San Clemente, is charged with eight felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 and faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in state prison if convicted. Nelms was arrested March 18, 2011, in Lindale, Texas, on an Orange County warrant and is being held without bail. He will now face extradition proceedings in Texas. Upon his extradition to Orange County, the People will be requesting Nelms be held on $200,000 bail. His arraignment date is to be determined.

In 1993, Nelms met 13-year-old Jane Doe while working as a youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente. 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.

In 2011, Jane Doe reported the sexual assault to law enforcement after being encouraged by a friend, in whom she had confided about the abuse by the defendant. Nelms was arrested at his home in Texas on March 18, 2011, and is in custody in the Smith County jail.

Nelms was a youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente from 1990 to 2000. At the time of his arrest, the defendant was a volunteer Bible study teacher at First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, 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, it is believed that Nelms may possibly have additional victims. The Orange County Sheriff's Department investigated this case and the investigation is ongoing.

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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UPDATE, MARCH 22, 3:22 P.M.: The Orange County Board of Supervisors this morning approved the first reading of an ordinance aimed at keeping sex offenders out of county parks and recreation areas.

The board asked District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who proposed the new law along with Supervisor Shawn Nelson, to tweak the ordinance so sex offenders can apply for waivers if they, say, attend a wedding at a county facility.

It is scheduled to return for a final board vote next month. It would go into effect 30 days after final approval.

But a representative from the Oklahoma-based Sex Offenders Network told the board the proposed ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution and will be overturned if it is ever taken to court, reports Patch.com's Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime.

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