According to KPC News, Steven F. Ardhuerumly has been arrested on several allegations of sexual assault while employed as a pastor at Heritage Community Church located at 5874 Co Rd 427, Auburn, IN 46706.
At least three minor victims have come forward to accuse the pastor of sexually assaulting them. He is facing Level 4 felony attempted child molestation and three counts of Level B and C felony charges of child molestation.
The first victim, under 14 years old, alleges that the two incidents took place between January 2010 and March 2013. The second victim, also a child under the age of 14, alleges that the abuse took place between 2006 and 2009. The third victim is under 14, has alleged that the sexual abuse happened between 2016 and 2021.
Ardhuerumly is currently out on bail and awaiting pretrial. He could be sentenced to the following if found guilty:
Attorney contributor Jeff Gibson is an experienced sexual assault attorney. He represents victims of sexual abuse within the state of Indiana. Below, Jeff has highlighted the legal rights of victims sexually assaulted by a pastor.
"Churches are legally obligated to protect the members of their congregation. Pastors, who hold positions of power, are trusted and respected by their congregation members. Unfortunately, across the country, we hear reports of pastors, or other clergy members, sexually abusing congregation members. Religious organizations should do their best to prevent such abuse. One way they can help to prevent incidents is to conduct background checks during the hiring process of all clergy members. Another deterrent could include installing security cameras throughout the facility. Finally, having a proper reporting system in place in the event that abuse does occur. They can help to not only prevent further incidents but deter them from happening in the first place."
"It is highly suggested for victims and their families to seek the guidance and experience of a sexual abuse attorney in order to explore all their legal options. In certain cases, abuse occurs as a result of negligence on behalf of the church and its officials. One example of negligence is if officials were aware of previous incidents of misconduct but failed to report or investigate them. In such cases, the victim’s families should know they may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit against the church."