A Virginia megachurch pastor was one of 17 people arrested in a recent 2-day sting operation set up by local law enforcement to identify individuals soliciting sexual relations from minors.
According to The Christian Post, on Monday, the Chesterfield County Police Department released the names of the arrested suspects. On the list was 51-year-old Virginia Beach pastor John Blanchard. Blanchard has served as the senior pastor of Rock Church International in Virginia Beach with his wife, Robin, since October 2013.
According to a statement from the police, “During the two-day operation, detectives intercepted suspects who believed they were soliciting sex from minors through online and social media platforms.”
“The suspects communicated with people they believed to be underage members of our community and arranged to meet them at a location to have sexual relations. When the suspects came to the location, they were met by police and arrested,” the statement continued.
Blanchard has been charged with “felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution,” Chesterfield Police report.
Blanchard’s neighbor, Jim Booker, told WTKR News 3 that he was shocked by the pastor’s arrest.
“We’ve shared pleasantries [and] we have discussed pastoring during the pandemic,” Booker told the outlet. “This is a shock to me because I know him fairly well. He’s never given me any indication over the years that I’ve known him that he would be mixed up in anything like this.”
He added, “I feel sad and sorry for him. I know evil is always present and always trying to take down those who claim Jesus Christ. I’m going to pray for him and be there for him. If he needs someone to talk to, I’m going to be there to talk to him.”
As of this writing, Rock Church International has not commented on Blanchard’s arrest.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Stevan Ovicigor
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.