Cops: Middle school had banned church molestation suspect

A former church volunteer recently charged with child molestation was banned from a Cobb County middle school two years ago, police said Wednesday.

Cesar Pastrana, 25, previously volunteered at Barber Middle School in Acworth but was asked not to return, Sgt. Dana Pierce with Cobb County police told the AJC. Neither Pierce nor school officials would discuss what prompted Pastrana's dismissal as a volunteer.

The latest news came one day after the senior pastor of NorthStar Church in Acworth said he told Pastrana not to return to the church after learning of alleged inappropriate contact between Pastrana and students.

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 at once contacted police, who began an investigation, Acworth police Chief Michael Wilkie said. Wilkie said his department asked Cobb County police, which has a Crimes Against Children unit, to assist.

Pastrana, who has a Kennesaw address, was arrested Friday evening and booked into Cobb County Jail, where he remained Wednesday without bond, booking records show.

The man is charged with two counts each of aggravated child molestation and child molestation, all felonies, according to jail records. Pastrana could face additional charges, police said.

As a volunteer, Pastrana was in contact with dozens of juveniles, the church said.

"We mandate that no volunteers, on NorthStar time, are ever alone with a student," Linch said.

The church conducts background checks on its volunteers, but Pastrana had no criminal history, according to police and church officials.

"NorthStar was exercising due diligence," Wilkie said. "They were just as shocked as anyone else."

In the most recent allegation, Feb. 3-5, Pastrana touched a juvenile at a lock-in held at a private home in Acworth, Pierce said.

Investigators discovered that two other juveniles were victimized at a private residence in late December 2010 to early January 2011 in unincorporated Cobb County, Pierce said.

According to an arrest warrant obtained by the AJC, Pastrana allegedly also physically injured a 14-year-old boy while molesting him last fall. The warrant said the crime occurred at an address that corresponds to Pastrana's Spangle Court home.

Pastrana's Facebook profile, which was pulled from the site Wednesday, said he is a 2007 graduate of North Cobb High School. The profile had Bible quotations, references to God and pictures from church-related events.

The church has contacted parents whose children were involved in activities with Pastrana, Linch said.

Anyone with information about possible crimes involving Pastrana is asked to contact either Cobb County or Acworth police.