Crime & Courts

Lexington pastor may have used job at church to sexually assault women, police say

Eduardo Cornejo
Eduardo Cornejo

A former associate pastor at a Lexington church was arrested Thursday and charged with criminal sexual conduct, according to a statement from Lexington police.

Eduardo Elias Cornejo, 34 and a former pastor at Columbia First Seventh-Day Adventist Church, turned himself into police after a victim came forward earlier this year to report a sexual assault, according to the statement.

The female, who spoke with police Feb. 22, said Cornejo assaulted her in January 2017. She said Cornejo met with her and "used persuasion and physical force" to have sex with her, according to the statement.

The woman said she was very clear she didn't want to have sex with Cornejo and repeatedly said no.

Cornejo told her not to tell anyone, according to the statement.

In August 2017, Cornejo was fired from his job as a pastor, according to police. He and his family moved from the state.

Police believe Cornejo used his position as a pastor to coerce other women into having sex with him. Officials ask that anyone with information about this contact police.

Cornejo is being held at the Lexington County Detention Center on a $10,000 bond.