Pastor charged with sexual abuse

A Delaware County pastor has been charged with sexually abusing a child, contact with a minor for the purpose of engaging in the sexual abuse of a child, and the criminal use of a communication facility, all felonies, as well as one count of corruption of a minor.

In a press release, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer identified the suspect as Edward Lilly, 70, of Boothwyn, pastor of the Christian Church of Chester, formerly the White Rock Christian Church.

Edward Lilly

Stollsteimer said the charges result from a sexual relationship that the defendant initiated with a girl beginning when she was 16.

"Like every case of child abuse, this is about the abuse of power. The defendant spotted this young girl in the check-out line at a grocery store and, over a period of months, he groomed her, initially by flirting, and then by more sexually explicit encounters," the district attorney said.

"The defendant targeted this young person, knowing full well her age, as well as knowing the legal age of consent. Moreover, he used money to buy the victim's silence, and he instructed her in the deletion of text messages and images from her phone," Stollsteimer said, adding that "as difficult as this situation is, I applaud the victim for coming forward. As a minister, the defendant occupied a unique position of power and control. Given his brazen disregard for the law, and for his family and his community, it is critical that he face legal consequences for his actions."

According to the release, investigators from the Criminal Investigations Division interviewed the girl in August of this year. Now 19, the victim said she was 16 when  Lilly approached her while she was working at a supermarket. She said he flirted with her, gave her cash on her 17th birthday, and eventually established a sexual relationship with her, videorecording their time. They also watched porn together. Over time the defendant is alleged to have given the victim approximately $2,000, which the victim interpreted as an attempt to buy her silence, according to the release.

The criminal complaint said investigators accessed deleted files from Lilly's laptop, one showing the pastor engaging in intercourse with the then-17-year-old girl.  In addition to the one video file, investigators found 10 sexually explicit images of the victim. The files had been transferred from a cellphone to the laptop.

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