A church in southern California has asked for prayers after its pastor was arrested for multiple counts of lewd and lascivious acts - two of them forcible - with a person under age 14.
Matthew Tague, a pastor at the North Coast Calvary Chapel (NCCC) in Carlsbad, was arrested on May 31 by detectives from the San Diego Sheriff's Department Child Abuse Unit. Tague is accused of molesting a child under the age of 14 by force multiple times, according to NBC San Diego.
Tague has been married to his wife Kelli for over 20 years as they have three children by birth and three adopted children.
San Diego County Sheriff's Office Lt. Karen Stubkjaer declined to disclose the alleged victim's exact age or gender, but she did say the purported crimes were not "related to his duties or position at the church."
"There is a lot of information I'm not prepared to disclose right now about the victim, the relationship, and so forth. It appears this has been going on for about a year," she said.
On Wednesday, church leaders released a statement saying they were "deeply grieved" to learn of Tague's arrest and had immediately terminated his employment.
"We ask you to please pray for the victim, as well as the family involved in this tragic matter," reads the statement. "Please pray for law enforcement as they determine the facts. We also ask you to pray for justice and restorative healing to take place for all involved."
It continues: "We are utterly heartbroken by these events. We have strict requirements and procedures in place for hiring pastors and staff including professional background checks and exhaustive interviews. In this case, Mr. Tague had no previous record of arrest or criminal charges. It goes without saying that we are cooperating fully with law enforcement."
Tague's biography on the church's leadership page has since been removed. However, according to the MailOnline, the former pastor claimed in his bio to "have been a follower of Jesus since (his) late teens."
He also said in the biography that he's "passionate about helping people see Jesus with their hearts and their heads" and "passionate about Christians growing into fully formed disciples of Jesus and learning to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength."
"I am passionate about adoption, about the Bible, about basketball and about good books, but not all in that order!" Tague added.
Tague, a San Marcos resident, was booked into the Vista Detention Facility and is being held on $1.9 million bail.