VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach pastor who authorities said solicited sex from a detective who posed as a minor online had his charges withdrawn.

John Blanchard was set to go to trial on Tuesday in Chesterfield County. WAVY has reached out to the local commonwealth’s attorney there to find out why the charges were nolle prosequi. Nolle prosequi means prosecutors could potentially bring charges again.

Blanchard was arrested in a prostitution sting operation back in October of last year. Authorities say he tried to solicit sex from an undercover detective who was posing as a minor. He was charged with solicitation of prostitution from a minor age 16 or older and using a vehicle to promote prostitution or unlawful sex. 

Blanchard “voluntarily” stepped down as a senior pastor at the Rock Church in Virginia Beach after news broke of his arrest. He was seen preaching at the megachurch two days after being arrested. A judge also allowed him to travel out of state for business while the case moved forward.

In a Facebook post, Rock Church International released a statement after the proceedings.

On Tuesday morning, October 11, prosecutors for the Chesterfield County Courthouse dropped all charges against Pastor John Blanchard. The prosecutor in a statement to the Court indicated that due to new information coming to light and lack of evidence, they will no longer be pursuing charges against Pastor Blanchard. This exoneration comes after nearly 11 months of delays and continuances. The defense attorney stated Tuesday that he was pleased with the outcome.

Pastor Blanchard has continually professed his complete innocence in this case. During this time, he stepped back from his pastoral duties at the Rock Church Int’l in Virginia Beach, Virginia, handing over the oversight of the congregation to Bishop Anne Gimenez and his wife, Pastor Robin Blanchard.

Following the proceedings on Tuesday, Bishop Anne Gimenez stated “We have always believed in John’s innocence. His humility and submission to those over him during this time has been a testimony to his character. He has spent the time in fasting and prayer and has invested much of his time in his family and education. We anticipate his resumption of church duties in the near future.”

Rock Church International

Blanchard’s case had been continued multiple times before Tuesday.