Pastor Jonathon Christopher Powell Faces Additional Sex Abuse Charges

The story is courtesy of the Rockford Register Star.


By Sadie Gurman

A Machesney Park pastor accused of having sex with a teenage girl faces new sexual-abuse charges after Winnebago County Sheriff’s detectives investigated similar claims from a second teenage girl.

Jonathon Christopher Powell, 40, a senior pastor at New Hope Baptist Church, was charged Wednesday with two counts of criminal sexual abuse for allegedly having “sexual conduct” with the second girl, Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro said.

A criminal complaint filed in Winnebago County Court says the acts happened between Aug. 20, 2003 and Aug. 19, 2004. The first count alleges that Powell fondled the girl’s breast; the second count alleges that he placed his mouth on her breast.

Iasparro declined to comment on the details of the police investigation, but said it continues. Powell was charged last week with two counts of criminal sexual assault for allegedly having ongoing “inappropriate sexual relations” with a girl. The age of consent for sexual relations in Illinois is 17 and above.

He was in the Winnebago County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

Leaders and members of the church, where Powell had been a pastor since 2000, have declined to comment, and messages left on the church’s answering machine today were not returned.

A white wooden sign outside of the church noting its times of service had Powell’s name on it at the beginning of Tuesday, but by Tuesday night it had been removed.

Each count of criminal sexual assault is punishable with four to 15 years in prison; criminal sexual abuse is punishable with probation or one to three years in prison.

In the Aftermath: When Clergy Falls, Part II

As I said in Part I, one of the blessings we can find in the aftermath of clergy failure is seeing the face of God in ways we never have before. In Exodus, there is an interesting event recorded. It occurs after God gave Moses the first tablets with the Ten Commandments and before He had Moses make the second set of tablets. That means this conversation with God takes place as Moses is wrestling with leading these wayward people who built an idol and held an orgy while he was with God on the mount the first time. Moses begged God to show him God’s glory (Ex. 33:18 ) because he could not lead the people unless God went with him. God’s answer was profound.

And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

God showed Moses

  1. all His goodness
  2. the name of the Lord

God offered this to Moses as the next-best thing to seeing His face, in assurance that the people’s gross sin had not caused God to abandon them.

What riches can we find in this for our situation? The first thing God showed Moses was all His goodness. This is another example of a place we see God’s goodness as an adjective rather than as a noun. In other words, God doesn’t just do good acts. God is good. That is WHO HE IS.

Because God is good, He cannot do anything that isn’t good. Even when He allows tragedy to occur, He has a good purpose. (That can seem cruel, but there is a huge reason God allows tragedy, and that’s the subject for another article.)

If the Bible is indeed God’s Word to man, and if God is Who He says He is, we have to look at Rom. 8:28 and believe it means what it says. We’re all familiar with this verse. When we’re faced with extreme pain it is easy to doubt, but God promises that all things work together for good to those who love Him.

We don’t often read the rest of the context of that verse. I’m not going to copy it here because it’s difficult to find a place to start and stop, so you’ll have to dig into it for yourself. But another interesting thing to note — part of God’s good on our behalf is that the Spirit constantly intercedes for us because we don’t even know how best to pray. When we feel alone and abandoned, or wonder how God could let this happen, we need to remember – through every moment of our pain the Spirit is interceding for us. He is with us; we are not alone. And He prays constantly for our good. He is near, He is accessible, and He will work even this together for the good of each person involved who loves Him.