28-year-old youth pastor and a 14-year-old girl relationship kept secret by wife so she could attend the same church.

A 19-year-old woman said in court last week that she trusted and confided in the youth pastor now charged with sexually assaulting her. The woman testified in Pittsfield Township’s 14A-1 District...

A 19-year-old woman said in court last week that she trusted and confided in the youth pastor now charged with sexually assaulting her.

The woman testified in Pittsfield Township’s 14A-1 District Court on Thursday, July 27 about how the married youth pastor sexually touched her several times during a church mission trip to Thailand when she was 14.

Blaine Faircloth, now 33, was 28 years old at the time of the mission to Bangkok and a nearby village, where the church group helped build a fence and paint a family’s hut.

The inappropriate touching started with a game of truth or dare one night inside the Thailand hut, the woman testified. The 19-year-old said she and Faircloth were among a small group lying on the floor massaging each other’s backs on a dare.

Faircloth, who was rubbing the then-14-year-old’s back, was the only adult chaperone playing, she said.

As the group made its way home to Michigan on planes and trains, the touching became sexual in nature, she testified.

After the 19-year-old testified for more than two hours at Thursday’s preliminary exam, Judge Karen Valvo bound Faircloth over to circuit court for trial on four criminal sexual conduct charges.

He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

‘I trusted him’

The woman joined a youth group led by Faircloth at the Riverview Church of God in 2012 when she was 14 years old, she testified.

The group met weekly, on Wednesday nights.

“There would be singing. We would play some games. Then (Faircloth) would do a sermon for about 15 or 20 minutes,” she said.

She joined a group that was planning a mission trip to Thailand. Five people went, including herself, two other teens, Faircloth and a second adult chaperone.

At that point, she said, her relationship with Faircloth was innocent.

“He was just my youth pastor. I was closer to his wife,” she said. “He was close to everyone in the youth group, it seemed like. He was nice. I talked to him occasionally. There was no (romantic) relationship.”

The woman testified that she looked up to Faircloth as an authority figure.

“I thought it would help me with my relationship with God,” she said about being open with the youth pastor. “I … looked at him like a youth pastor. I trusted him.”

That would change when the group traveled overseas.

Truth … or dare

The five travelled first to Bangkok, where they spent a few days before going to the village.

It was in the village where the relationship between Faircloth and the 14-year-old girl changed, she testified.

“You could say we got closer each day,” she said. “I was depressed at that time. I would talk to him about my life at home, things I went through at high school. I would talk to him about boys, and just things I thought I could talk to him about.”

The woman said she thought it was OK to tell him personal things because he was a youth pastor.

“He made me feel better after telling him,” she said. “His responses were positive. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone, that he’s here for me, that he’s my youth pastor, he’ll pray for me.”

Faircloth first touched the girl inside the hut while playing truth and dare, according to her testimony. Faircloth played the game with the three teens while the other adult chaperone was gone, she testified. They all dared each other to rub one another’s backs, according to the woman.

“We were in his room … laying (sic) down side by side with each other,” she said. “(Faircloth) was rubbing my back, and scratching my back for awhile, and as (the other chaperone) walked in, he immediately stopped, realizing it was super inappropriate.”

The relationship turned flirtatious and the two became even closer after she lost her passport, she said. They bonded at a Thailand McDonald’s while trying to figure out how to get the passport replaced, she said.

“He would say: ‘Part of me wishes you didn’t get a new passport so you and I could stay in Thailand together. You’re like my girlfriend,'” she said.

When Assistant Attorney General Robyn Liddell asked the woman if she felt Faircloth was her boyfriend at that time, she replied: “Yes.”

“I knew he had a wife,” she added. “I didn’t expect him to leave her. He didn’t make it seem like he was going to leave her. He would tell me he hopes to marry me someday and when he sees me walking down the aisle, he’s going to wish it was him and it’s going to make him mad.”

When they returned to Bangkok from the village, the two stayed up all night together at the hotel, according to her testimony. The woman said Faircloth rubbed her legs and back while they lay in a bed together, but stopped short of touching her genitals.

“He was basically telling me how he was getting excited,” she said.

Youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting 14-year-old girl on train

Blaine Faircloth Jr. is accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old. He would have been 28 at the time.

Touching on the train

The physical contact became more intense and sexual on the long journey home from Bangkok, the woman testified.

During a layover, Faircloth told the woman that his wife could never find out about them, and that a physical relationship couldn’t continue when they got home, she testified.

The criminal charges stem from the time the group spent on a train between Chicago and Dearborn, which is why the case is being prosecuted in Ann Arbor.

Faircloth, the woman testified, told her repeatedly that he wanted to have sex with her in a train bathroom, and that he wanted to find a place where she could give him oral sex.

He touched her breasts and genitals throughout the train ride, she testified, all the while showing and reading the 14-year-old “raunchy” texts from his wife, she said.

“He was touching me while sexting her,” she said.

The woman said she allowed it because she liked him, but authorities have accused Faircloth of abusing his position of authority to coerce the then-14-year-old into the sexual relationship.

Back home

The relationship continued when the two got home, she said. The woman said Faircloth both texted and called her.

“He’d call me when (his wife) would be in the shower,” she said. “He would call me when she was at work. He would call me when she had family in town. It was like he was my boyfriend, and he knew it.”

The two met up a few times, too, cruising around Grosse Ile, once stopping at a bank parking lot and kissing in the backseat of his car, according to her testimony.

It went on for about a month, the woman said.

But it would all soon come to an end.

“His wife … found his phone records, and saw he was calling and texting me,” she said.

The woman said she didn’t have any more contact with Faircloth, and instead met with Faircloth’s wife on three separate times, the first at Riverview Church of God in Riverview.

“She wanted to have a conversation with me about it … basically where I told her what happened,” she said. “She made it seem like she wanted me to come to her if I needed it.”

Faircloth’s wife has not been charged with any crimes.

“She told me not to tell my parents and to make up a reason why I should switch churches,” the woman testified.

‘I was definitely alone’

The woman said described attending church after from then on as “awful.” She was not allowed to look in Faircloth’s direction, and he wasn’t allowed to look in hers, she said.

Beyond Faircloth’s wife and another woman, the romantic relationship between the 28-year-old youth pastor and a 14-year-old girl was kept secret. The woman lied to her parents about it, but told them she no longer wanted to go to the church.

“I was definitely alone,” the woman said. “Nobody knew.”

She eventually told a family member, who kept it a secret for several months. Her parents found out about the relationship in December 2012, she said.

Her mother went to the police in March 2013, she said.

The case was investigated by the Southeast Michigan Trafficking and Exploitation Crimes Task Force. The FBI leads the task force with the Michigan State Police as a partner.

Megan Hawthorne, a spokeswoman with the attorney general’s office, said it’s being investigated as an isolated incident and the task force – which usually investigates organized human trafficking and prostitution – took on the case because the alleged assaults took place on a train.

Faircloth wasn’t charged until June 2017 – five years later. It’s unclear why the investigation took so long. Hawthorne did not immediately respond to an inquiry into the length of the investigation Friday.

The national Church of God – based in Tennessee, where Faircloth currently resides – declined to answer questions about whether Faircloth was ever disciplined for his behavior.

Dennis Watkins, legal counsel for the church, said in an email that he has “no information .. because (Faircloth) is not and was not credentialed minister in Church of God.”

Watkins referred all questions to Faircloth’s Royal Oak-based attorney Marc Hart, who declined to comment after Thursday’s court proceedings beyond saying that he would “vigorously” defend his client.

An email and a voice message left with Riverview Church of God on Friday were not returned.

Faircloth is free on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond. Judge Valvo granted a request to let the 33-year-old travel back and forth between Michigan and Tennessee for his court dates.

Faircloth is charged  with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

He is scheduled to appear before Judge David Swartz in the Washtenaw County Trial Court on Sept. 11.

Source: wfaa.com

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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