A pastor of a Westlake church allegedly molested an 11-year-old girl since 2017 and videotaped her nude on two separate occasions, authorities said.
John Michael Ward, 45, of Westlake, was arrested Monday and charged with 10 counts of first-degree rape; 40 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile; and two counts of pornography involving a juvenile.
Kim Myers, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office spokesperson, confirmed on Tuesday that Ward is the pastor of Bellview Baptist Church. Ward has served as its pastor since July 2012, according to the church website. Church officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Ward was arrested following an investigation by the sheriff's office, which was initiated by an anonymous call to the Department of Child and Family Services' tip line.
He told detectives he has molested the girl since she was 9 years old and videotaped her nude on two occasions.
Bellview Baptist Church is affiliated with the Carey Baptist Association. Bruce Baker, the association's director of missions, released a statement saying, "We are heartbroken. The church and the association of churches are devastated. We are mobilizing resources to care for the family, church, and community."
During a phone interview, Baker said he has been with the association for six years and knew Ward professionally.
"It's fair to say both the association of churches and leadership of Bellview are just crushed," he said. "It's incredibly tragic. No one expected this that I'm aware of."
Baker said he met with the deacons and church leadership at Bellview on Tuesday to discuss plans to continue supporting Ward's wife and their children.
"We're trying to care for them in the best way we can," he said.
Judge Sharon Wilson set Ward's bond at $640,000.
Det. Jacob Dore is the lead investigator.