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Thursday, May 11, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor arrested in sexual battery

SPRINGFIELD — The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday that a Baptist minister was arrested April 21 and booked with a sexual battery count involving a 16-year-old juvenile.

Brian Bravo, 46, former pastor of Soverent Grace Baptist Church near Springfield, Louisiana, was released April 24 after posting $75,000 bail.

“I’m not guilty of the charge. I was falsely accused,” Bravo said Wednesday.

Laura Covington, the Sheriff’s Office public information officer who issued a news release Wednesday about Bravo’s arrest, said she didn’t learn about the case until Tuesday because of a paperwork oversight.

The Sheriff’s Office said Bravo admitted to sexual misconduct with the juvenile. The juvenile, the Sheriff’s Office said, is a member of the church where Bravo formerly conducted services.

Covington said Bravo reportedly told investigators that the incident was consensual but the juvenile said it wasn’t.

Bravo’s arrest followed an April 19 complaint to the Sheriff’s Office.

The Shriff’s Office said the complaint stems from an incident that allegedly happened shortly after Hurricane Katrina last year when the juvenile went to Bravo’s residence at 41425 Brown Road in the Ponchatoula area to use the telephone.

Bravo stepped down as pastor of the church in early April before the complaint was filed, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The small church with a congregation made up of about four families is in a back yard building off Brickyard Road in southwestern Tangipahoa Parish, just east of Springfield and the Livingston Parish line.

District Attorney Scott Perrilloux of the 21st Judicial District Court said Wednesday that Bravo’s case hasn’t been forwarded to his office.

“When we receive the charges from the Sheriff’s Office, we will evaluate them for prosecution,” Perrilloux said.