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Church Official Charged with Sodomy

Police have arrested a man after an incident at St. Mark's Lutheran in Springfield

Fairfax County Police arrested an associate pastor at St. Mark's Lutheran Church on Monday, June 13, and charged him with one count of forcible sodomy.

Police allege that 58-year old Rafael Arteaga had inappropriate contact with a 4-year-old girl on Wednesday, June 8, in an incident that took place at a playground near the church, located at 5800 Backlick Road, across the street from Lynbrook Elementary School. Police arrested Arteaga at his home, on Craig Street in Springfield, and he is currently being held without bond.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of the arrest of Pastor Arteaga and of the incident of which he is accused. Sexual molestation of children is a crime and we have no tolerance for sexual abuse or misconduct of any kind," said St. Mark's senior pastor Michael Taylor in a statement released on Tuesday, June 14.

According to police reports, the girl and her mother were at the playground when the daughter asked for a drink of water. Arteaga offered to take the girl into the church, and a short time later, the girl informed her mother the pastor had made inappropriate contact with her. Following an investigation by detectives into the alleged incident, officers arrested Arteaga, police reports said.

According to Taylor, Arteaga had been employed by the church since September 2001. He had been tasked to develop a ministry to Hispanics in the community.

"He was doing it and doing it well," said Taylor. Arteaga is married and has no children.