A former pastor at a New Hampshire church is being held on $100,000 bail after being arrested Monday on charges that he sexually assaulted a minor.
Stephen Jesmer, 37, of Manchester, turned himself in to police on Monday night. He is charged with three counts of felonious sexual assault and one count of witness tampering and appeared in court on Tuesday.
"Basically you have a pastor who had sexual misconduct with a minor, who breached trust of parents, or other parishioners, or staff members who entrusted him with the care of a minor, and he took advantage of that," said Manchester Police Lt. Brian O'Keefe.
Police said Jesmer was employed as a pastor with The Dialogue Church on Pine Street at the time of the alleged assaults. Church officials are cooperating with the investigation.
The investigation began several months ago when police were first alerted to potentially inappropriate behavior involving Jesmer and a minor.
"At some point during the investigation, the pastor at the church now, had relieved him of his duties," said O'Keefe.
The Dialogue Church was closed Tuesday, but in a statement to parishioners on Facebook, current Pastor Anthony Milas wrote, "As a church family we are committed to being a church that glorifies God and adds value to our surrounding community. We will stay focused on teaching the truths of God's word, that there is hope and help to be found for all in Jesus."
O'Keefe said church leaders are cooperating with the investigation.
"I'll commend the church for stepping up and doing what they need to do and working whole heartedly with our agency," O'Keefe said.
Police said the investigation is ongoing, and they are asking anyone with information regarding Jesmer to contact the juvenile investigative unit at 603-792-5551.