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Saturday, October 01, 2005                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor accused of sex crimes

By R.J. VILLELLA

A Ravenna area minister was arrested Friday for arranging to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, said Massillon Police Department Det. Bobby Grizzard.

Nelson Lynn Wright, 42, a senior minister at the Lighthouse Community Chapel, 3011 Ohio 59, Ravenna, is facing two counts of importuning, fifth-degree felonies.

Wright, of 763 Highland Ave., Ravenna, was taken by Ravenna officers to their station, Grizzard said, and Massillon police picked him up and transported him to Massillon.

He was booked into Massillon City Jail and bail was set at $100,000. He will remain in jail over the weekend until appearing Monday in Massillon Municipal Court.

Massillon Police acting with the FBI Internet Task Force began the investigation in May, Grizzard said, and an arrest warrant was issued Friday.

That warrant was served by the Ravenna Police Department, he said.

“This is an Internet case,” Grizzard said. “He was arranging to meet a young girl for sex. From what we understand, he was the senior pastor and counseled youth on a variety of issues for a number of years.”

Grizzard said detectives posing as young teens, were contacted on the Internet by Wright, who then asked to meet for sex.

Grizzard said similar charges are pending from another northern Ohio county and those charges could be filed as early as Monday morning.

Steve Hornyak, an elder at Lighthouse Community, was shocked and didn’t want to believe the news when contacted. Hornyak declined comment.

The Rev. Randall Handly, general secretary treasurer with the parent organization Full Gospel Churches International, said he’s never met Wright but has talked to him on the phone several times.

“We mostly help with the federal and state paperwork so they can get tax-exempt status,” he said of the loose network of independent churches.

Handly said Wright, if found guilty of the charges, would be ousted from his role as minister.

“We would revoke his credentials,” he said. “But we would help him through his ordeal from a spiritual standpoint.”

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