VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach pastor previously accused of soliciting sex from a minor says “enough is enough.”
During a recent service, Rev. John Blanchard returned to the pulpit to address his congregation. Blanchard was among 17 men accused of solicitation of prostitution after an online sting operation by law enforcement.
Blanchard was the senior pastor at Rock Church International in Virginia Beach at the time of his arrest.
The Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Unit said the suspects believed they were soliciting sex from minors through online and social media platforms, but were actually communicating with detectives.
Court records show that the person Blanchard was texting prior to his arrest was posing as a 17-year-old girl.
The charges against Blanchard were withdrawn, or nolle prosequi, ahead of the criminal trial in October. Nolle prosequi means prosecutors could potentially bring those charges again.
Blanchard initially voluntarily stepped down from his position as senior pastor at Rock Church after he was arrested.
During his remarks Sunday, Blanchard quoted the Bible and told his congregation that he is “committed to strengthen the brethren with the truth.”
“For the sake of the church, I have kept quiet until now, but only because that is what legal council has advised me to do. Which has been very difficult to do, by the way,” said Blanchard. “To ignore, quietly, all the lies and smear campaigns against me and this Church. Against all of us, really.”
Blanchard recalled how he says he has been the subject of vicious and inhuman accusations.
“These statements are demonstrably false. You can dress up a lie, you can twist it, you can misrepresent it. But, I’m sorry, a lie is still a lie.”
Blanchard went on to say that “particular organizations and individuals” have made it very clear that they “intend to destroy our church, my family, and this ministry.” Shortly after, he announced that they are moving forward with legal actions.
“This matter will be addressed in a court of law,” said Blanchard. “I believe the word of the Lord over me and this house that God will shut the mouth of the liars. God has spoken his promises to this house, and they will come to pass.”
“Just know this. We have the victory. I believe it’s time to shout and watch the walls of Jericho come tumbling down, Amen.”
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.