A Morristown pastor was arrested and charged on Saturday after he allegedly raped a 17-year-old girl Cocke county girl.

46-year-old James Ronnie Messer was arrested at around 11 pm Saturday night, after family members reported to authorities that the 17-year-old girl had been raped by the Tennessee pastor.

According to a report issued by citizentribune.com, the girl’s sister told the police that the pastor picked up the teen at her workplace, after which rode with the pastor to a nearby worship center, because their plans to go swimming in the Hartford area were derailed by swift and muddy water.

The pastor reportedly led the girl through the center’s rear entrance, and lured her into a room across from the men’s restroom where he flirted with her, asked her to remove her clothing several times and subsequently raped her on the floor of the church.

The teen told authorities that although she was scared, she took her clothes off.
Later that day, he took her back to her place of employment and dropped her off.

According to his statement, Messer, a pastor of Crossway Worship Centre on West Highway 25/70 in Newport told authorities that he thought the assault against the underage girl was consensual.

As such, he was transferred to the Coke County jail and is being held under the charges of aggravated statutory rape and sexual battery.