A former Reading youth pastor has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage member of his youth group several times, beginning in 2001. 51-year-old Charles Holt has been charged with several sexual assault charges, along with the corruption of minors. The investigation began after detectives with the Berks County District Attorney’s Office received a call from the PA Department of Human Services regarding a 17-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by her youth pastor.
Investigators say that the sexual assault began after the then-16-year-old victim joined Holt’s youth group at Reading Evangelical Free Church in Mohnton. They say that the assaults began in June of 2001 when the victim was 17 years old and continued past her 18th birthday. Holt became friends with the girl’s parents and the girl babysat at his home, where many of the sexual assaults allegedly occurred.
Holt is currently the CEO and president of The Factory Ministries in Lancaster County. Police are not currently aware of other victims but have asked any potential victims to contact the Berks County District Attorney’s Office.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent specializes in helping sexual assault survivors find justice in civil courts and has a background as a criminal sex crimes prosecutor. We’ve asked him to share some information on the legal options available to those who have been sexually abused in religious organizations:
Unfortunately, many cases of sexual violence involve a power dynamic where the perpetrator is in a position of trust or authority. Many victims in these situations may struggle to come forward, especially in cases of child sexual abuse at church. However, survivors of sexual abuse should know that they have legal rights in both the criminal justice and civil court systems.
In cases of sexual abuse in religious institutions, these institutions may be considered liable for the abuse if their negligence resulted in a failure to prevent such abuse. For example, a church may be considered liable for failing to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement. When negligence is a factor in enabling abuse, the victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or someone you love has been sexually abused in a religious organization, you can learn more about your legal options in a free consultation with one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors lawyers.