BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – 37-year-old Jonathan Michael Bailey of New Orleans pleaded guilty to 2 counts of sexual battery of a child under the age of 14 in a Biloxi courtroom Friday.
Bailey was a youth pastor at an area church in New Orleans. According to reports, students in his youth group reported inappropriate behavior between Bailey and a 13-year-old member of the group back in 2015.
“The brave actions of the youth, who reported the inappropriate behavior of Bailey toward the child, led to the discovery of ongoing sexual abuse that had occurred over the course of months both at the church in New Orleans and here in Biloxi,” said Assistant District Attorney Ian Baker, who prosecuted the case.
During the investigation, the victim told officials Bailey lavished the child with attention, gifts and promises of a future together.
According to reports, much of the abuse occurred at the church in New Orleans in 2015 until Bailey took a youth group on a retreat to the Seashore United Methodist Retreat Center here in Biloxi. Prior to this trip, Bailey told the victim to come to his room after everyone else was asleep.
Officials say Bailey later confessed his actions in a recorded interview.
“Time after time during the course of this abuse, the defendant made intentional and unconscionable choices to manipulate and groom his relationship with the child to ultimately lead to the crimes for which he has been convicted,” said DA Joel Smith. “His repeated abuse of the trust that was given to him by the family, his church and the community will leave lasting scars. However, the strength and courage demonstrated by the victim throughout the process and especially today are a shining example of hope to those who may be victimized in the future.”
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