Press release from the Orange County (California) District Attorney:
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Case # 11HF0475
Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
March 23, 2011
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the public’s help identifying potential additional victims of a former Orange County youth pastor who sexually assaulted a 14-year-old female parishioner in 1993. Joe David Nelms, 47, Formerly of San Clemente, is charged with eight felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 and faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in state prison if convicted. Nelms was arrested March 18, 2011, in Lindale, Texas, on an Orange County warrant and is being held without bail. He will now face extradition proceedings in Texas. Upon his extradition to Orange County, the People will be requesting Nelms be held on $200,000 bail. His arraignment date is to be determined.
In 1993, Nelms met 13-year-old Jane Doe while working as a youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente. The defendant was 29 years old at the time. Over a three-year period, Nelms is accused of sexually assaulting the victim at the church and in a car by rubbing her vagina and breasts over and under her clothing.
In 2011, Jane Doe reported the sexual assault to law enforcement after being encouraged by a friend, in whom she had confided about the abuse by the defendant. Nelms was arrested at his home in Texas on March 18, 2011, and is in custody in the Smith County jail.
Nelms was a youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente from 1990 to 2000. At the time of his arrest, the defendant was a volunteer Bible study teacher at First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, and a counselor for high school-aged children at Sky Ranch, a Christian camp and ministry. His whereabouts after leaving San Clemente and prior to arriving in Texas are unknown at this time.
Based on evidence obtained in the investigation, it is believed that Nelms may possibly have additional victims. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigated this case and the investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Lou Gutierrez at (714) 347-8794.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.
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