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South Salt Lake police have arrested an Oregon pastor for allegedly sexting and touching a 15-year-old.
Police arrested Leonel Rocha-Pereda, 66, on Wednesday morning on suspicion of sexually abusing a minor, enticing a minor over the Internet and sexual exploitation of a minor. As of Thursday afternoon, he had not been formally charged in 3rd District Court.
Rocha-Pereda, of Salem, Ore., had been e-mailing the girl since July, and in mid-September, made a trip to Salt Lake City to start a new church, according to a police news release.
The girl told police that the man was the pastor of her church.
The girl's family knew Rocha-Pereda from when they used to live in Oregon and invited him to stay at their South Salt Lake home, said police spokesman Gary Keller.
"During the time the suspect was in Salt Lake he [allegedly] grabbed the victim's breasts and groin on two separate occasions," the release reads. The alleged touching occurred at the girl's home and at a local mall, police say.
Rocha-Pereda also bought the girl a cell phone and told her not to tell her parents about it, according to the release. He and the girl exchanged sexually graphic text messages and nude photos, Keller said.
The girl's parents contacted the police Wednesday and told them about the sexual text messages.
Rocha-Pereda was returning to Salt Lake City when police intercepted him.
During an interview with officers, Rocha-Pereda denied ever touching the girl, according to the release. He was arrested without incident and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail.
Investigators are concerned that more victims could be out there, and if so, that they contact the police at 801-840-4000.
"It's just a possibility," Keller clarified.