Kevin O’Connor, a 62-year-old Sterling resident, has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenager in 2003, in a case connected with a Loudoun County church that has long been criticized for its unusual influence over families.
O’Connor, a former deacon of Calvary Temple, was arrested last week on charges of sexual assault by force, aggravated sexual battery (including battery while the victim was asleep) and taking indecent liberties with a child.
Alex Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, said the sexual assaults — which did not occur on church property — were reported to the sheriff’s office by the church in 2003. The victim, who was between 13 and 15 years old at the time of the assaults, confided in an adult, and word of the assaults eventually reached the church, sheriff’s office spokesman Kraig Troxell said.
At the time, one of the sheriff’s deputies overseeing the investigation was himself a member of Calvary Temple, Kowalski said. Authorities concluded there was not enough evidence to charge O’Connor. The sheriff’s office took another look at the case in 2012, eventually leading to further interviews that resulted in O’Connor’s indictment last week.
O’Connor was held without bond at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center, the sheriff’s office said last week, and on Wednesday, he could not be reached for comment.
At Calvary Temple, a receptionist said that O’Connor is not currently a deacon and has not held the role “for some time” but declined to comment further.
The Sterling Pentecostal church has come under scrutiny before for sexual assault allegations and for separating members from their nonbelieving family members. Former members have described being told to shun relatives who left the church or were kicked out, children tell painful stories of being forced out by their parents, and parents who left the church tell of children and grandchildren who will no longer speak to them.
Under the leadership of head pastor Star Robert Scott, the church — which reportedly had a peak membership of more than 1,000 congregants and an annual income of $1 million when Scott took charge in the early 1980s — has become more insular. Scott took the church out of the Assemblies of God denomination, going independent, and began asking families for more donations beyond the 10 percent tithes they already paid, as well as requiring them to send their children to the unaccredited church school.
At the school, former students describe frequent corporal punishment, including beatings with a custom wooden paddle about two feet long that many families also kept at their homes.
Sexual abuse allegations also have dogged the church, including claims by one of Scott’s nieces that he molested her when she was a child. Scott has declined to comment on those allegations, which the niece reported to Herndon police in 2008. Virginia prosecutors declined to pursue the case and suggested the victim press charges in California, where the alleged abuse occurred, but she decided not to do so.
The victim in the case involving O’Connor has spoken about her abuse for years, including telling the Loudoun Times-Mirror about the repeated abuse for a 2015 investigation into the church. The victim told The Washington Post last year that she was kicked out of the church at age 14 — left at a gas station with almost none of her belongings, to meet her father, whom she hadn’t lived with since she was 4.
While the victim was kicked out of her church and her home, O’Connor remained close friends with Scott, who even mentioned the deacon by name in his sermons several times.
In 2009, for instance, Scott gave a sermon in which he described riding motorcycles in the Manassas area with O’Connor and another friend. “As I was riding along with two of my long-standing friends — we have spent many hours together in different activities, playing ball and doing things we enjoy; they have both served in the ministry here — and as I was meditating on this passage, I thought, ‘You know, I really believe I could call those men in a time of need, and they would respond,” Scott preached from the pulpit. “Whatever it was, they would make a way to come and try to help if there was a genuine need or emergency in my life. I would do the same for them. I am speaking of Steve Robinette and Kevin O’Connor: These men whom I genuinely love.”
This post has been updated.