Pastor indicted on sex charges

Pastor indicted
on sex charges

JACKSON — A Jackson pastor has been indicted by a state Superior Court grand jury on charges of sexual assault and sexual contact with a juvenile.

The Rev. Raul Pena, 54, who resides on Commodore Boulevard, is the pastor of the Jesus Harvest Time Ministries on Freehold Road in the Cassville section of the township.

Pena’s alleged victim is an 18-year-old female who is said to have been under the age of 18 at the time of the contact. Pena would face a sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted of the second- and third-degree crimes, authorities said.

According to Jim Churchill, a spokesman for the Ocean County Pros-ecutor’s Office, Pena was indicted on June 20. He was arrested and charged with the crimes on Sept. 18, 2000.

Churchill said the assault had "nothing to do with Pena’s work with the ministry." He said the matter was first brought to the attention of a Jackson police officer. The officer signed the initial complaint.

A call to the church on Tuesday was answered by a woman who identified herself as a church secretary. The woman said neither Pena nor anyone else associated with the church would be willing to comment on the matter. She said the church will continue with business as usual, as will the church’s day-care center.

— Kathy Baratta