Longmont church leaders accused of failing to report sexual assault case

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BOULDER, Colo. -- Police plan to serve summonses to five church officials associated with Longmont's VineLife Church, after investigators say a youth pastor sexually assaulted a child who was a member there.

Boulder police spokeswoman Kim Kobel said detectives served summonses to two pastors and two elders associated with the church located at 7845 Lookout Rd. A fifth church official, who is currently out of the country, will be served when they return to Colorado, according to Kobel.

Officials said 35-year-old Jason Allen Roberson, a youth pastor at VineLife, was arrested on Sept. 4 after turning himself in to the Boulder County Jail. He was charged with sex assault on a child by one in a position of trust, sexual exploitation of a child, unlawful sexual contact and stalking.

The victim in the case, now a 23-year-old woman, told police her "inappropriate" relationship with Roberson started when she was 15 years old, and continued for seven years. She said she trusted Roberson as an authority figure and spiritual guide, and felt uncomfortable disclosing the relationship to others, according to police records.

She added that during their relationship, Roberson touched her inappropriately, and watched her undress by spying on her outside of her Boulder home.

Police said Roberson is a close friend of the victim's family. Roberson allegedly admitted to this behavior when confronted by the victim and family friends.

Investigators said that the pastors and elders at VineLife failed to report the situation to authorities soon enough.

Executive pastor Robert Phillip, 65, pastor Luke Humbrecht, 30, elder Edward Bennell, 65, and elder Warren Williams, 66, all face a misdemeanor charge of duty to report child abuse.

VineLife Church issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying leadership has cooperated with law enforcement in this case.

"It was the understanding of the Church leadership that the former employee did not want this matter to be made public. As such, the Church sought and obtained legal counsel, who indicated that the Church leadership would not violate Colorado law by not reporting the incident given the current age of the victim."

Investigators are unsure whether there are more victims, and are asking anyone with information about this case to call (303) 441-4477.