Pastor pleas not guilty to charges of rape and kidnapping

December 20, 2019 GMT

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts pastor arrested on rape and kidnapping charges has pleaded not guilty.

Pastor Elmer Perez of Iglesia De Jesucristo Church in New Bedford was arrested and arraigned Wednesday after a monthlong investigation, police said. He was also charged with witness intimidation and assault and battery on a person over the age of 14.

Police did not disclose the age or gender of the accuser.

Perez’s attorney, Michael Frates, said his client is innocent and that the defense has evidence that will exonerate Perez.

A judge ordered Perez, 44, held in jail without bail pending a pretrial hearing Monday.