A pastor at a Boston church has been indicted on child rape charges by a Suffolk County grand jury.
George Swain, 71, a pastor at Greater Victory Temple in Mattapan, was arraigned in November in Dorchester District Court. Thursday's indictment moves the case to Suffolk Superior Court, where he faces an arraignment next month.
Prosecutors say Swain sexually abused three boys between the ages of 8 and 16 from 1997 to 2004.
The three victims, who are now in their 30s, were members of the church and trusted Swain, investigators say.
"Bishop Swain is accused of using his position of trust and authority to ingratiate himself to his victims and their families, grooming them in order to gain access to targets for his sexual abuse," Suffolk County District Attorney Rollins said in a statement Thursday. "He allegedly preyed on his victims' faith and used it as an entryway into their lives."
“He was seen as a role model, and the victims’ families all looked up to him,” Assistant District Attorney Audrey Mark said in court last year.
Investigators allege Swain abused two of the boys at Greater Victory Temple and the third boy at his Dorchester home where the youngest child sometimes spent the night.
The abuse went on for years, prosecutors allege.
Greater Victory Temple is a Pentecostal church that has been part of the Boston community for 19 years, according to the church's website.
“I would never think about that happening here in Mattapan,” said Shauna Dawson, who lives near the church. "I have a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old son, so it just scares me, and I’m devastated.”
Dawson says the charges are unnerving especially because so many kids live in the area.
"It scares me because anything could’ve happened to a child on my street, or any child in the neighborhood,” Dawson said.
In her statement, Rollins commended the strength and courage of the survivors who came forward in order to make sure Swain has to answer in court for his actions.
“It can be incredibly difficult to disclose childhood sexual abuse, whether as a child or as an adult survivor. The survivors who came forward to disclose abuse by Bishop Swain showed a tremendous amount of strength and bravery," she said. "It can take decades for victims to make the decision to come forward about sexual abuse, as is what happened here."
Swain's bail was set at $75,000 for each of two dockets for a total of $150,000. Conditions for his bail included GPS monitoring, surrendering his passport, staying away from the victims in the case and having no unsupervised contact with children under 16.
He is due to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on April 14.
Anyone who believes that a child in Massachusetts may be the victim of abuse can call the DCF Child at Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200.