An on-again, off-again 15-year investigation into allegations of systematic sexual, mental and physical abuse at the hands of a Sterling church’s leadership has led to the indictment of one of its former deacons.
A Loudoun County grand jury on Aug. 13 indicted Kevin R. O’Connor, 62, a former deacon at Calvary Temple Church, on seven sexual assault-related charges, including two counts of aggravated sexual battery by force, threat or intimidation on a victim 13 or 14 years old and one count of forcible sodomy. The charges are related to incidents that allegedly took place between April 1, 2003, and May 3, 2003, according to the Loudoun County commonwealth’s attorney’s office.
A Loudoun County Circuit Court judge on Aug. 21 granted O’Connor a $10,000 secured bond. In addition, a judge ordered that law enforcement monitor O’Connor through GPS tracking. He’s restricted from leaving the state, having any unsupervised contact with minors or the alleged victim and he was forced to surrender his passport.
O’Connor is due back in court at 9 a.m. Aug. 27, when a circuit court judge is expected to set a trial date.
The LCSO began investigating allegations of abuse at the hands of the Pentecostal church’s leadership in 2003 after a 14-year-old girl said she was sexually assaulted by one of the church’s deacons.
The report was filed in 2003 with a sergeant at the sheriff’s office – also a member of Calvary – who was not re-sworn in as a deputy when Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman (R) won a second term to office in November 2015. Authorities say the 2003 case did not move forward at the time because of a lack of evidence.
The alleged victim told the Times-Mirror that once she came forward about the sexual assault she was taken to Calvary Temple’s location off Tripleseven Road and questioned for eight hours by several members of the church’s leadership – including O’Connor – before they agreed to file a report with the sheriff’s office.
“There’s like this tiny bit of me that’s relieved because I feel like after all these years that someone finally believes me, even though there’s been people all along that have believed me,” she said. “There’s a lot of anxiety knowing that I may have to live through this all over again in court.”
The Times-Mirror is withholding the victim’s name at her request, although she has allowed for its use in previous articles.
The case was reopened in 2012 at the victim’s request, though former Calvary Temple congregants say there was little movement on the investigation until 2015, when the Times-Mirror began reporting on the abuse and mistreatment allegations. At that time, a second woman came forward to the Times-Mirror and said as a child she was raped and sexually assaulted by several members of the church. Since then, more ex-congregants have come forward, alleging similar incidents as well as harsh mental abuse.
“We didn’t hear from them for three years,” said a former Calvary congregant who helped the alleged victim convince law enforcement to reopen the case. The Times-Mirror is withholding the former congregant’s name because they say they fear for the safety of a family member who still attends the church.
Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kraig Troxell said investigators in 2012 received new information about the case and began following up with witnesses. By this time, he said, the case was almost 10 years old and investigators even traveled out of state to follow leads.
In 2013, Troxell said, evidence was resubmitted to a forensic lab where investigators hoped changing technology would aid them in their case.
But he said a detective assigned to the case died in 2015 from cancer.
“This case has been active since the new information came forward in 2012, and it is continuing to be investigated,” Troxell said. “ … There is still an active investigation into Calvary Temple church.”
The Aug. 13 indictment came after additional evidence was given to prosecutors to present to a grand jury, according to Heather Williamson, spokeswoman for the Loudoun commonwealth’s attorney’s office. She declined to comment on the nature of the additional evidence.
O’Connor’s alleged victim says she hopes the former deacon’s arrest is the first of many as the investigation into Calvary Temple continues.
“This would just be like the starting place. This would just be round one. I was just the first one to take the first swing,” she said.
In addition to sexual abuse, former members of the church say they've witnessed countless incidents of physical and mental abuse, with families being broken apart through divorce should one member disagree with the church's teachings. Many have been "shunned" from the church or left on their own accord. They say they haven't seen or spoken to their children or loved ones in years.
Former congregants and concerned community members began protesting across the street from Calvary Temple in March 2015 following the Times-Mirror’s article on the allegations. Since then, the protesters’ numbers have dwindled, but haven't completely stopped.
After nearly two years of silence from law enforcement on the case, the FBI in April 2017 raided a Sterling apartment owned by the church, where neighbors reported seeing agents removing firearms and computers from the premises. At the time, the sheriff’s office said the raid was carried out by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Since then, no details have emerged as to whether that incident is connected to the sheriff’s office’s case.
The ultimate goal, O'Connor's alleged victim says, is to shut down Calvary Temple.
“It’s ending the evil that is Calvary and ending the evil that they’re protecting other people. It’s not just me [who is a victim]; it’s in every satellite church. It’s even in Kenya. They deserve their justice as well,” she said. “… I just want people to listen to us … it’s about the babies growing up in there. I just hope that I’m strong enough to see this through and have courage enough to help others through.”