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Manhunt underway for Fla. pastor accused of sexually assaulting teen, fleeing the state

A South Florida pastor arrested for sexually assaulting an impaired teenage girl missed his arraignment and is now believed to have fled the state, authorities said Monday.

Monte Chitty, 62, was arrested early last month and charged with sexual battery on a 15-year-old girl. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center but later released on a $75,000 bond.

Chitty, who authorities say is the pastor at the First Baptist Church in Marathon, was expected back in court on Monday. However, he didn’t show up for his hearing and is now believed to be on the run. He was seen in a white van with out-of-state license plates, prosecutors said.

“Our understanding is that he’s already on the road and he’s left the state of Florida,” Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward told local television station WPLG on Monday.

The investigation into Chitty began early last month, after authorities were notified of the alleged abuse by an anonymous caller who reported “overhearing the girl as she told an adult she was with she’d been raped,” the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

As officers attempted to locate the victim, Chitty called the sheriff’s office to say that a young girl had passed out on a couch in the library of the church. He told authorities he was worried he was going to be accused of something and wanted to tell his version of the story — that he simply helped the teen lie down on the couch but didn’t touch her after that.

When the girl was located by the sheriff’s deputies, she said Chitty had given her alcohol, which she thinks it might have been “spiked.”

Further investigation revealed that in text messages found on both his and her phones, Chitty “made reference to having sexual relations with the girl while she was impaired,” authorities said.

Chitty, who was a registered volunteer with the sheriff’s office, was arrested and charged with sexual assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The First Baptist Church, which believes that Christians should oppose “all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography,” didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


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