MANASSAS, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - A former youth pastor accused of sexually abusing a teenager from his Northern Virginia megachurch appeared in court Thursday.
A judge ruled that two additional women can testify in Jordan Baird’s trial – a young woman who Baird was convicted of sexually abusing when she was 16 years old and a third woman who prosecutors say had a sexual relationship with Baird that began when she was underage.
Two additional women who say Baird pursued a sexual relationship with them through the church were not allowed to testify. Those women were not minors at the time.
Prosecutor Kevin Gross told the judge that Baird’s “end game” with the young women was to get them to perform oral sex on him at the church.
The accuser in the current case, which goes to trial in February, alleges that when she was 16 years old, Baird kissed her, exposed himself and asked for oral sex during a private music lesson at the church in 2014. He is facing two counts of indecent liberties with a minor by someone in a supervisory role.
In January, a jury found Baird guilty on five felony counts of indecent liberties with a minor. He later pleaded no contest to electronic solicitation of a minor. He was sentenced to eight months behind bars and forced to register as a sex offender. Morgan Harding and her mother, Gloria, spoke to FOX 5 about the abuse Morgan endured, also in 2014, and how she has healed in the years since.
The third woman allowed to testify in the case told investigators that she performed oral sex on Baird at his home and at the church. The date wasn’t clear in court paperwork.
A former church member tells FOX 5 he decided to leave primarily because of how the abuse allegations were handled by the senior pastor, who is also Baird’s father. Jeremiyah Mullins says he was also an ordained lay pastor at The Life Church.
“Watching the church kind of demonize the victims, equate the advent of legal charges as an attack on the church, and ultimately that means an attack on God,” said Mullins when asked what he observed.
Both Mullins and Gloria Harding say there were also efforts not to involve police in Morgan’s case.
“[That] the entire thing should just be handled internally between the church and the family,” said Mullins. “I just absolutely disagree with that.”
Baird has refused to comment, and his father, Pastor David Baird, referred us to church spokeswoman, Rachel Pisani.
“Life Church and its leadership is completely apologetic to any victim,” Pisani said.
She denies that accusers were demonized and that there was reluctance to go to police.
“Pastor Baird stands by the fact that he fully cooperates with the police,” said Pisani.
She said Pastor Baird immediately put his son on leave from the church when the allegations came to light.
“There’s never been any time that Life Church or leadership has tried to push something under the rug or ignore it or deny that this is happening,” she said.