A Parker church's former youth pastor is facing eight charges of sexual assault on a minor by one in a position of trust after preying on several young girls in his youth ministry over several years, according to an arrest affidavit released Friday evening.
Joshua Clemons, 35, is facing seven charges in Douglas County related to alleged assaults on members of his youth ministry from 2011 to 2013 and one charge in Denver related to an alleged assault on a 17-year-old member of his youth group in 2015.
In the 39-page affidavit, many people around Clemons, including his wife, the alleged victims' relatives, their friends and members of the church had some suspicions about his interactions with some girls in his youth group, but none ever went to the authorities and very few ever went to church staff. The first instance of alleged inappropriate behavior dated back to 2009.
Clemons, a youth pastor at Crossroads Church on Twenty Mile Road in Parker from 2008 to 2015, engaged in sex abuse with at least three of his students and inappropriate behavior with others, the arrest affidavit alleges.
Described by one person as a "celebrity" in the church when he worked there, Clemons was reportedly very charismatic and well-liked by churchgoers and church staff, the report says. However, one witness told investigators that he was a habitual liar and used manipulation not just with his victims, but with many others.
"It was all just a part of his lies and manipulation," the witness is quoted as saying. "He is a master manipulator of not only students, but adults as well."
Detailed in several instances throughout the report is Clemons' willingness to get close to his alleged victims' families. According to the report, Clemons attended one of his reported victims' sibling's high school graduation, and with another he regularly ate dinner at their home and went on hikes with them.
Some of the relatives of the reported victims grew suspicious of Clemons, and one limited the time he spent with their daughter to once a week. Another says they confronted him about the amount of time he spent with one of the girls, but he convinced them it was OK.
One witness recalled Clemons openly admitting during a discussion of sin with the youth group that he had struggled with his attraction to "young girls' bodies." That witness says she confronted Clemons about it later but he denied having said that. The witness told investigators when she asked the church staff for help about it, "her requests were dismissed."
According to the affidavit, he regularly convinced his victims to lie for him, saying if they told anyone about their "relationship" that his life would be ruined. One alleged victim eventually told her family and a pastor at the church that she'd had sex with Clemons - but only after she'd turned 18.
She cut Clemons out of her life in January 2018, and later admitted to her pastor that she'd had sex with him when she was underage. She said that she came forward after hearing how he might get a youth pastor job at another church, the arrest affidavit says.
She reportedly told investigators that she was worried Clemons might prey on other girls in the group after learning he'd kissed at least two other members of his ministry.
9NEWS reached out to Restoration Community Church, which hired Clemons in January. They provided us with this statement:
The safety and security of our church members and their families are of utmost importance to us. We are grieved by the serious nature of these allegations and for the victims and their families. We have launched our own internal investigation into this unfortunate situation and we are cooperating fully with authorities. The person in question has been terminated and we will continue to pray for everyone involved.
Clemons is still in custody at the Denver County Detention Center, according to online records. His next court appearance has not been set.