Ohio pastor arrested in sexual sting operation
On Monday evening (February 7), police in East Palestine, Ohio arrested a local pastor caught in an undercover operation by a human trafficking task force. Aaron Newell, who was the senior pastor of Niles Christian Assembly in nearby Niles, Ohio, faces charges of prostitution and possession of criminal tools.
According to WKBN, Newell responded to an online advertisement for prostitution, which had been set up by undercover agents. Newell arranged to meet someone to pay for sex and was arrested when he arrived at the agreed location.
It is unclear what items police found in his possession that they believe were intended for criminal purposes.
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Newell could be seen preaching in the Niles Christian Assembly’s direct the day before, where he was finishing a series on deconstruction.
In a post titled “I don’t think this means what you think it means”, Newell explained that he believes many people don’t understand the difference between being a sheep and being a goat, referring to the parable of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46where Jesus speaks of the last judgment.
“When we conform to the image of Christ, it means we are doing what Jesus did,” Newell preached. “And what Jesus tells us to do. It’s all through the Scriptures. So the question we have to realize then is, ‘Who are we, really?’ »
Characterizing the parable of the sheep and goats as a clear warning rather than a parable, Newell said, “We have to start realizing, ‘Wait a second; Jesus does not speak to people who do not know him. Jesus talks to people who claim to know him.
“And, dare I say it, it goes into that place where maybe I should acknowledge that, ‘Maybe I’m the goat.’ And I’m not talking about the ‘greatest of all time,'” Newell later said.
Newell pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning and his bail was set at $2,500. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 5.
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