NorthStar Church Youth Volunteer Charged with Child Molestation

Cesar Pastrana of Kennesaw is accused of molesting at least one juvenile during a church lock-in.

A 25-year-old youth volunteer has been arrested and charged with molesting at least one juvenile during a church lock-in.

The and Acworth police departments are investigating multiple charges of child molestation against Cesar Pastrana of Spangle Circle in Kennesaw.

Cobb police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce said that on Friday, Feb. 3, and Saturday, Feb. 4, the Kennesaw church held a youth lock-in called "Thrive," and Pastrana allegedly molested a juvenile at a private Cobb County residence.

Acworth police said Pastrana confessed Friday to molesting two teenage boys, reported WSB-TV.

"It became clear in the interview he had engaged in some child molestation involving some people who had been in his home for a church function," Acworth Police Chief Mike Wilkie told WSB-TV.

Pierce said further investigation found that two juveniles were victimized by Pastrana from late December 2010 to early January 2011 in a private residence in unincorporated Cobb County.

NorthStar Church said it asked Pastrana to leave the ministry after a student accused him of inappropriate conduct during the retreat, WSB said.

The church said it conducted a background check on Pastrana and that his record was clean.

According to his Facebook page, Pastrana is a 2007 graduate of .

Jail records show Pastrana was arrested Friday afternoon and is being held without bond at the on charges of child molestation, aggravated child molestation and sexual battery.

Anyone with information about this or any other case involving Pastrana should contact the Cobb County Police Department's Crimes Against Children Unit at 770-801-3470.

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Anon February 15, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Im gonna miss Thrive.
Pam J February 15, 2012 at 02:48 AM
He had no prior record. Every criminal has to start somewhere. And they caught him before he could screw up any more lives. Thank goodness he confessed. And what is a "church lock-in" anyway? Sounds kind of scary.
Teresa Smith Owens February 15, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Sorry I should have worded that better. I am sure the Church did run a background. I was saying for their sake,. but I still say this person is sick. I work with teenagers all the time. I could not imagine. but then of course I am normal . Alot of times these people do pass backgrounds it is just they have never acted on their impulses or they just never got caught.
Teresa Smith Owens February 15, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Teenagers love the lock ins. They have one that is called Less is More to teach them the value of what they have. In the less is more they live for days without showers, eat food like you would get in a soup kitchen, They also do alot of Charity work. They give up their cells, etc and sleep on the floor of the church for 2 or 3 days. It teaches alot about what we are blessed with. A Lock In is about the same Some lock ins are bible studies for days. They learn alot about God and how to take stress and the pressure of life etc. Teenagers love them
Teresa Smith Owens February 15, 2012 at 11:29 AM
I bet the church will still have things for you. Give them a chance to regroup and get over this. If not try Hope church on wed nights They have a great program called Fusion Hope is the church on Dallas Marietta Hwy with the big fountain in the front.
Very Concerned February 15, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Unfortunately, the church knew more about him than they are telling. Parents had voiced concerns to the leadership in the past, and they chose to overlook it. Then, 2 years ago, Cesar was banned from Barber Middle school due to inappropriate interactions with a student and a leader was told face-to-face by the principal and a letter was also sent to the pastor. Because the church didn't want to offend Cesar by addressing his sin, they again, overlooked it. Because of their negligence, they chose not to provide help for Cesar when they knew he needed it, and they also chose to not protect the children. Look where we are at now because the church wasn't doing their job (helping minister to someone who needed it badly and protecting their flock from a wolf)
Gaetana Pipia February 15, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Police confirmed Pastrana was previously banned from Barber Middle School. You can read our updated story here: http://patch.com/A-qS22
Teresa Smith Owens February 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM
wow I cant believe the Church still let him work with their youth. After knowing this about the middle school ban. Someone made a very wrong decision.
Very Concerned February 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Actually, it does reflect poorly on the church and their discernment. You're right, the church should be a place of healing, refuge, and grace, AS WELL AS a place who strives to bring repentance in the hearts of unbelieving sinners. When a church has been given warnings from parents, as well as a letter about one of the people they allowed to serve and minister to children and then chose to overlook his sin for fear of offending him, that is a problem! The MINUTE red flags were raised they should have loved Cesar enough and hated his sin enough to help call him to repentance and help get him help! But no, they chose to see past it, and allow him be tempted daily....they served as Cesar's stumbling block. I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Elizabeth Graham February 16, 2012 at 04:06 PM
This church knew he was a danger to children after being notified by the school yet they chose to overlook it and allowed him to continue to work with them and have lock ins where he is spending the night with these children. This is unbelievable and it's just plain sick. I would not trust my children at this church after all of this. The safety and well being of children comes before ANYTHING else. Or at least it should. But in this case NorthStar church felt that Cesar Pastrana was worth more than that. Disgusting
So sad February 17, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Elizabeth and very concerned, How do you know that the church received a letter with concerns about Cesar? The church was notified by the middle school? The news reports don't say this???? The police said northstar did everything correctly and were unaware? My son was there. Very sad.
Jessica Singletary McKinney February 17, 2012 at 04:44 AM
All anyone wants to do is blame the church because of some letter they got from the middle school and that he was banned from there. My question with that is, why did he make it past the middle school? Should they not be at fault too since they obviously did not call authorities. I am a volunteer at Northstar and I have had a background check. I am very sad and will be praying for the families involved, but I will also stand behind my church. I have 3 boys of my own and I feel they are in better hands around the staff at Northstar than many places.
Very Concerned February 17, 2012 at 01:06 PM
WSBTV reported on it. The school, church, and police all have this letter. The patch has the updated article here. http://acworth.patch.com/articles/molestation-suspect-cesar-pastrana-banned-from-barber-middle. The church were also approached from concerned parents in the past.
Very Concerned February 17, 2012 at 01:18 PM
SOME LETTER!? Sorry, if he's not allowed around those kids at school, why should he be around those SAME kids at church? The school did notify authorities. They did what they were supposed to. They also, personally, made the church aware by a face-to-face meeting and this letter. Are you thinking this is made up? Have you ever thought that the parents of the victims want to get to the bottom of things and are finding things out along the way? Do you think these people WANT to find this stuff out about their church home, where they send their children and tithe? Not likely.
Elizabeth Graham February 17, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I'm with Very Concerned on this... Some letter??? Are you kidding me? If a middle school had banned him from their property or from volunteering at their school, why would the church not be alarmed about this? Not only that but they were told WHY he was banned and yet, the church continued to allow this MONSTER to have access to the children there. I am stunned that there is anyone who would defend that.
NorthStar Member February 17, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Perhaps some people are reserving judgment until they see this information being reported by a credible news organization, not posts on this blog by you and Very Concerned. So far, all I have seen is that the middle school banned Cesar from their campus. There has been one update that I have seen with a quote from NorthStar that they are aware that Cesar was banned from Barber Middle School. If there are articles that I have missed, please feel free to post the link because I have not been able to find them. Perhaps some of us want to rely on the truth, not the speculation, conjecture, and "EXTREMELY RELIABLE" information that Very Concerned, an anonymous poster, has presented on these sites. Do you have some additional inside information that has NOT been gleaned from these blogs?
NorthStar Member February 17, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I'm wondering the same thing.
Teresa Smith Owens February 17, 2012 at 03:30 PM
The Church did run backgrounds on this guy and he checked out clean. but yes I know that does not really make anything people do lots of crimes and get away with them. So he probably just never got caught. If the middle school did tell the church why was this guy not arrested before. Then the church would have that to ban him from their youth. If he did something wrong with kids at the middle school why was he not charged before. See this is the problem Was he just smacked on the hand and told Dont do that again and we will look over it now?? This guy is probably super nice, active everyone loves him type of person. The church might have gotten the letter. But it could be just like I said he didnt get charged so they think it is just slander. And yes slander happens so in their defense the church might have not believed the letter. If the middle school would have done their duty or the police theirs he would have been charged with something. But he has not till now. This is all very tricky. IF you had never been charged with anything. Clean record and asked this church to work with their youth. They run the usual background and you are clean. Then they get this letter saying you are bad. But nothing has ever been legally charged against you. Well what kind of position can they take. So really for that reason I dont think the church should be blamed
Elizabeth Graham February 17, 2012 at 03:57 PM
NorthStar Member- you have no idea in the ways that some of us might be connected to this case. Just because you are a member of the church does not mean you know better.
NorthStar Member February 17, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Elizabeth, You are right, I do have no idea how you might be connected to this case, and I am truly sorry for you if are a friend or family member of a vicitm. If so, I can't imagine the pain you are dealing with now, or the other spectrum of emotions. I don't think I implied, nor do I see how you can infer, that "I know better". In fact, I stated pretty much the opposite. I DON'T know any more than what has been made available through various news organizations. You have to understand, though, that as a member of NorthStar for 10 years, I have watched our pastor and staff absolutley pour their hearts into this community, as the hands and feet of Jesus. They have welcomed people into our church that would have never felt comfortable in other churches. I have watched broken people come to NorthStar and their lives changed through the 'transforming power of Jesus Christ'. NorthStar has served the North Cobb community faithfully, in partnership with schools and many other organizations, including MUST ministries. I know the heart of my pastor (well, only God truly knows the heart of anyone, but I have a pretty good idea of the kind of man he is), and if there has been any poor judgment that could have led to this horrific tragedy, I know his heart is breaking over it right now. I have never personally known a pastor who has cared as much about his flock as Mike Linch. And the staff surrounding him share that same love and passion.
NorthStar Member February 17, 2012 at 04:21 PM
It is very easy to lash out and want to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of one person/organization when you are hurting. This all may seem very clear in hindsight, but in hindsight, things often do. My thoughts and prayers are with you and any other victims and their families/friends at this time.
So sad February 17, 2012 at 07:05 PM
My family is personally involved. We are brokenhearted. But I can say that the media has not been accurate with all their facts. I am trusting the proper authorities to discover the truth. I am praying for everyone involved, and that the truth will be revealed.
Joe Bozeman February 17, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I am sick of this story. I don't know why the church and its members just don't take responsibility for this bad mistake, learn something from it, and everyone get on with their on lives.
So sad February 18, 2012 at 12:04 AM
If you are "sick of this story" I suggest you get off the computer and spend your time on something more "newsworthy". For those of us involved, for these children, this story is very personal and we need to unravel the truth! We deserve the truth. And then lives can begin to heal And people can "get on with their own lives." if this was your son or grandson you might not be so quick to dismiss the issue.
Jessica Singletary McKinney February 19, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Very well said!
Jessica Singletary McKinney February 19, 2012 at 02:24 PM
If the school notified authorities, would you not think that there should have been some kind of charges. Did the parents of the child involved previously not feel that what he did was bad enough to not press charges. I would have. Have you actually seen or read this letter yourself? Maybe you should not judge on what you do not know. I am concerned for the families involved. I am not saying that nothing happened, I am saying that if the church is to blame, so are many other people that let him slip through the system. For people that did know him, there were no signs. Believe it or not, that happens a lot.
Jessica Singletary McKinney February 19, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Just as I stated to Very Concerned, have you seen or read the letter your self. If not, you have no idea what it says. If what he did was bad enough to be banned from the school, why was there no charges then? There are many parties involved in this that let him through the cracks besides the church, so to solely blame Northstar is wrong. Also, are you just getting your information on what is being written on here, or do you know more about all the details than everyone else? Yes this is a horrible thing, but everyones emotions are fueling their blames instead of the facts.
Observer February 19, 2012 at 03:05 PM
A simple statement from the chruch could end all the speculation about their responsibility to the victims and their famlies: 1) "We were never notified at any time previous to this incident in writting, by phone, or in person that Cesar Pastrano was banned from any middle school for any reason in order to proctect it's children, or 2) Previous to this incident, we the church, were notified in writting, by phone, or in persson that Cesar Pastrano was banned from a middle school(s) for the protection of it's children and we deeply regret our error in judgement." I would hope by issuing one of these statements the commuity would be able to come together in their position on this tragedy. However, with or without the Church's cooperation the truth will come out and it would be in the best interest of the chuch for it to come from them.
Tougher Laws and Tougher Punishment February 21, 2012 at 05:14 PM
We need tougher laws and more (harsher) punishment for sex offenders!
Joe Bozeman March 24, 2012 at 03:25 PM
It is amazing to me how this story has dropped off the radar and just seems to have gone away. Am I right in thinking those involved are "Lawyered Up" and advised to keep quite on this terrible act.


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