WESTLAKE, La. (KPLC) - A Westlake pastor stands accused of raping an 11-year-old girl over a two-year period, authorities said.
John Michael Ward, 45, of Westlake, was arrested Monday, June 17, on 10 counts of first-degree rape, 40 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and two counts of pornography involving a juvenile.
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso confirmed to KPLC that Ward is the pastor of Bellview Baptist Church in Westlake. Ward has been pastor at Bellview since 2012, according to the church website.
Bruce Baker, director of Missions at Carey Baptist Association - a network of churches that includes Bellview Baptist Church, released the following statement:
“We are heartbroken. The church and the association of churches are devastated. We are mobilizing resources to care for the family, church, and community.”
The Sheriff’s Office arrested Ward following an anonymous call to the Department of Child and Family Services tip line on Monday, according to Kim Myers, spokesperson for the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office. Myers said Ward confirmed to detectives that he had been molesting the girl since 2017, when she was 9 years old. He said he videoed the girl twice while she was nude.
Judge Sharon Wilson set bond at $640,000.
Det. Jacob Dore is the lead investigator.