|Lakemount Worship Centre in Grimsby. (QMI Agency files)
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. -- Police have charged a former Grimsby, Ont., youth pastor with sexual assault and extortion and are asking anyone with more information to come forward.
Niagara Regional Police said they began an investigation in May after a young adult female reported she had been sexually assaulted by a youth pastor. The alleged assault is said to have happened when the accused was head youth pastor at Lakemount Worship Centre in Grimsby. Const. Derek Watson said the alleged assaults happened between 2009 and 2013.
Niagara police arrested a man Tuesday at his home in Windsor, Ont.
Andrew Riach, 31, is charged with sexual assault and extortion.
Riach was employed between October 2006 and May 2013 at the Pentecostal church on North Service Rd. along the QEW.
The church has a large congregation and recently underwent a $5-million, 24,000-square-foot expansion to accommodate its growth. It draws nearly 800 people for Sunday service.
"The arrest and charges against this former employee are being treated with the utmost seriousness and concern," Lakemount Worship Centre said in a statement released by e-mail. "Lakemount has and will continue to co-operate fully with police and local authorities during the investigation of this matter.
"As this matter involves an open police investigation, Lakemount cannot comment further on the allegations or related facts, however we will continue to pray for and support the friends and family of those affected by this difficult situation."
Police and the church urged anyone with information to contact the NRP's sexual assault unit at 905-688-4111, ext. 5100, Det. Brian Essery at ext. 5125 or anonymously at Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.