Ex-Cobb church volunteer admits he molested, gets life

A former volunteer at a Cobb County church and middle school admitted he molested nine boys, including two relatives, in a Cobb County courtroom Friday.

Cesar Arlone Pastrana, 25, was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to the charges.

Pastrana has been in the Cobb County jail since his Feb. 10 arrest on child molestation and sodomy charges. On Friday, he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of child molestation, four counts of aggravated child molestation, and one count of aggravated sodomy.

Pastrana’s arrest came days after a weekend lock-in sponsored by NorthStar Church, where he previously volunteered with youth, according to police. A subsequent arrest warrant issued days later accused Pastrana of having inappropriate contact with minors attending an event last year at his home.

In February, the Rev. Mike Linch told the AJC he learned of the accusations against Pastrana two days after a weekend event held Feb. 3-5 for high school and middle school students.

“He denied the allegation, but we immediately released him as a volunteer in our ministry and asked him to not come back to NorthStar,” Linch said in a one-page statement.

Church leaders contacted police, who then launched an investigation. In February, then-Acworth Police Chief Michael Wilkie told the AJC the church had done its due diligence by conducting a background check on Pastrana that revealed no criminal history.

But Pastrana had been banned from volunteering at Barber Middle School following an incident involving a student, a spokesman for Cobb County schools previously said.