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Fourth victim comes forward in church youth leader sexual contact case

Preston Pitcher, 38, charged with four misdemeanors

A fourth victim has come forward in connection with an alleged sexual assault case involving a youth leader at First Baptist Church of Durango who is suspected of making inappropriate contact with multiple victims over the course of several years.

Pitcher

On June 22, the Durango Police Department arrested Preston Edward Pitcher, 38, of Durango, on three counts of sexual contact without consent after three victims came forward who said the church leader inappropriately touched them.

According to court records, the incidents were similar in that Pitcher, who had worked for the church for 10 years, met the alleged victims in his role as a youth leader, befriended them and then made sexual advances.

First Baptist Church Lead Pastor Jimmy Thoma previously told The Durango Herald none of the incidents occurred at church-sanctioned events.

The 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on Aug. 6 amended charges against Pitcher after a fourth victim came forward shortly after Pitcher was arrested. He is now charged with four counts of sexual contact without consent, all misdemeanors.

“This was a community of people fairly tight-knit,” said District Attorney Christian Champagne. “The word was getting around within the community of people that resulted in the fourth victim.”

Champagne said the fourth victim’s allegations against Pitcher are similar in nature to the other three victims.

The victims’ names, ages and genders were redacted from court records. The alleged incidents occurred in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Champagne said the fourth victim said the incident occurred “within the past three years.”

The Durango Police Department interviewed Pitcher on June 22, at which time him he told authorities he was asleep and not aware of his actions during one of the incidents.

He did not deny it happened and admitted to similar acts in the past, according to court records.

“Eventually, Preston was honest and admitted that he was not asleep and had touched (the victims),” the investigating officer wrote in the arrest affidavit. “Preston stated that he was aroused during these times.”

Pitcher was arrested and taken to the La Plata County Jail on $1,500 bail. He has since posted bail. His next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 8.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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