Cumberland Times-News

February 4, 2013

Gaithersburg church member accused of molestation in 1980s

Accused reportedly helped with youth ministries, taught at Christian school

ERIC TUCKER
Associated Press

— WASHINGTON — A Las Vegas man has been charged in Maryland with molesting multiple boys in the 1980s while assisting with youth ministries at a church targeted in a child sex abuse lawsuit.

Nathaniel Morales, who had been working as a pastor in Nevada, is accused in an indictment of sexually abusing the boys when he worked with Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg. That church until December was associated with Sovereign Grace Ministries, a Kentucky-based evangelical church group accused in a lawsuit in Maryland last fall of covering up allegations of child sex abuse by its members. The lawsuit was amended last month to name Covenant Life Church as among the new defendants.

An indictment returned in December charged Morales, 55, with 10 counts of either sex abuse or sex offense and with committing sex acts against four boys between 1985 and 1990. Police said Morales helped with youth ministries during that time and also taught at a Christian school and hosted sleepovers.

Morales is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court. His lawyer did not return calls seeking comment and a telephone listing for Morales could not be found.

The criminal investigation began in 2009 when a man reported to police that he was sexually abused by Morales when he was between the ages of 12 and 20. The man told police that his parents had spoken to the church pastor but that no police report was made. Several other men interviewed by police said they had been sexually abused by Morales as boys — sometimes in their own bedrooms or inside his apartment or his office at the Christian school where he taught.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who said they are victims of sexual assault.

Police interviewed a co-pastor at the church who recalled having confronted Morales about the allegations. That pastor, Ernest Boisvert, told police that “normally the church would appeal to the person to stop his criminal behavior and then, should it not stop, they would alert people that the person is not acting in a Christian manner. The person would need to show contrition,” according to a police report filed in the case.

Boisvert said that going to the police was in the “realm of possibilities,” but that he took his cues from the families, the police report said.