FAIRBANKS—The former pastor of a Fairbanks church has been accused of carrying on a months-long sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
A grand jury last week indicted S. Anthony Justice, 31, on 12 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Police believe that Justice is somewhere in the Lower 48, possibly in Georgia. A $25,000 warrant for his arrest has been issued.
Justice was hired as the pastor of Corinthian Baptist Church in 2007 but led the church for only 15 months before he was dismissed in August 2008.
Fairbanks police believe Justice met the 15-year-old victim while he was pastor. Detective Peyton Merideth said Justice initially engaged in suspicious activity with the girl, including sending inappropriate text messages at church functions.
“There was some inappropriate behavior, it was not necessarily illegal though,” he said.
However, the relationship between Justice and the teen allegedly became sexual last summer, months after he was dismissed as pastor of the church.
Justice’s dismissal led to a lengthy court case about whether the church’s leadership or the congregation has the right to fire a pastor.
Justice’s supporters said he attracted new worshippers, especially younger people to the church, while trustees said they found his leadership lacking.
Contact staff writer Chris Freiberg at 459-7545.