SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport pastor has been found guilty on all counts in his federal trial on child sex charges.
Andrea Lewis of Act on Faith Church was charged with 3 counts of transportation of minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He is accused of having sexual contact with girls in his church choir during trips out of state.
"There was a lot going on at this church that should have sent up flags," Earl Campbell, the federal prosecutor told the jury during closing arguments at the end of the 5 day trial.
The jury deliberated about 3 hours before returning the unanimous decision just after 2 p.m. Friday.
On Thursday, his defense attorneys called character witnesses to the stand, who described him as a godly man and a good man.
The jury also heard an audio recording of an interview from a sex crimes investigator. During the interview, the investigator asked Lewis if he touched a girl's vaginal area when she spent the night at his house. Lewis told the investigator, "No."
Prosecutors say witness testimony and exhibits admitted into evidence established that Lewis transported at least three minors to and from Texas to have sex with them between 1994 to 2000.
In a statement following the verdict on Friday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley said Lewis formed and actively recruited members of a choir, which consisted of girls mostly under the age of 18 in his congregation, and that he used his status as pastor and choir director to coerce young female church members to have sex with him. Finley says he threatened the girls not to tell anyone, and used choir trips and other church related travel to cover up sexual abuse.
"This verdict should send the message that if you harm children there are consequences," Finley stated. "The Assistant U.S. Attorney, FBI and Shreveport Police Department are to be commended. Their hard work and efforts have removed a dangerous man from our community. He can no longer exploit and hurt young girls. My office and our federal, state, and local partners are committed to protecting children. We will continue to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law."
The state also has a case against Lewis, and prosecutors are watching the case to determine how they proceed.
Lewis faces up to 10 years in prison, 5 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each count. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.