Youth Pastor Faces Charges Of Sexual Battery


A youth pastor spent the night in jail on Wednesday after police said he had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

Travis Branstetter, 30, appeared before a Hocking County judge on Tuesday, 10TV's Glenn McEntyre reported.

His wife and mother-in-law were there as well to lend their support.

Investigators said Branstetter served as a youth paster at the Logan Church of the Nazarene when he began a sexual relationship with an underage member of his congregation.

Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North said authorities learned of the alleged sexual relationship from gossip.

"There were rumors around Logan," said North. "They made their way to Hocking County Children Services they in turn contacted the victim."

North said the girl detailed approximately 10 sexual encounters with Branstetter over a four month period, McEntyre reported.

According to investigators, Branstetter took the girl on multiple trips to teach her how to hunt, and would drive her to a wooded area where they would have sex.

Investigators said that the girl did not claim she was forced to have sex with Branstetter, but because she is under the age of 16, consent is irrelevant.

According to investigators, Branstetter confessed to the relationship when confronted by police.

"He admitted that he knew her age and that there was an apparent attraction between him and her," said North.

However, Branstetter's attorney Tom Martello said he questions whether he did confess.

"I don't know that I buy that be confessed," said Martello. "I want to see that, I don't think he did. We'll see as the case progresses."

Branstetter pleaded not guilty, if convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

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