South Florida Youth Pastor Accused of Sex Battery on Girl, 15

A South Florida youth pastor is facing sexual battery charges after police say he began a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

Fernando Misael Ponce, 24, was arrested in Miami Wednesday on 20 counts of lewd and lascivious battery and one count of possession of sexual performance by a child, according to an arrest report.

The report said Ponce, who lives in Miramar, was the girl's youth pastor at Sembrador De Fe Church on Northwest 21st Avenue in Miami. When the girl was between 11 and 12, Ponce showed interest in her but the victim's mother intervened and told him to stay away from her, the report said.

But when the girl was 14, Ponce secretly asked her to be his girlfriend and they began a relationship, the report said. For 8 to 9 months they had a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship and engaged in sexual activity, according to the report.

Ponce would tell the girl not to say anything about their relationship or else "her family would suffer," the report said.

The report said Ponce and the teen would video chat with each other and Ponce would secretly take pictures of the girl without her knowledge. Ponce later confessed to all the allegations, the report said.

Ponce appeared in court Thursday where he was ordered held on $25,000 bond. He was also given house arrest and ordered to stay away from the teen and the church.

His attorney said he hasn't attended the church for some time.

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