WESTLAKE, La. (LBM) – Bruce Baker, director of missions for the Carey Baptist Association, said the Bellview Baptist Church in Westlake is asking for prayers of healing for a young girl who was raped by the now former pastor of the congregation.
John Ward, 45, who had served at the church since 2012, was arrested June 17 on 10 counts of first degree rape, 40 counts of indecent behavior and two counts of pornography involving a juvenile, according to a news release from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department.
An anonymous call to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services’ tip line led to an investigation during which Ward confirmed to detectives that he had been molesting a girl, now 11 years old, for two years. He also told investigators he videoed the girl while she was nude on two separate occasions.
Judge Sharon Wilson set his bond at $640,000.
“Bellview Baptist Church leaders are cooperating fully with the sheriff’s office in the investigation,” Baker shared with the Baptist Message. “The deacons, in consultation with Carey Baptist Association, unanimously voted to immediately terminate Ward’s employment with the congregation because of his sexual immorality and failure to maintain the high standard of integrity for the office of pastor outlined in the Bible.
“Church leaders immediately met with the victim’s family to minister to them in their grief and to offer to help underwrite the counseling needed to help the child and other members of the household to heal,” he said. “The deacons also offered to continue to provide financial support to the wife of the fired pastor as well as to minister to the spiritual and emotional needs of her and her family.
“The Carey Baptist Association and the Louisiana Baptist Convention have connected with church leaders to coordinate various resources that are available to the church in meeting these various commitments,” he said. “Bellview Baptist Church leaders request prayer, respect, and privacy as we process this traumatic event.”