Pastor at Virginia Beach’s Rock Church has ‘voluntarily stepped back’ after prostitution charge, church says

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Detectives say suspects believed they were soliciting sex from minors

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A lead pastor at Rock Church Virginia Beach has “voluntarily stepped down” from that role following his recent arrest, a statement from the megachurch confirms.

John Blanchard is among 17 men accused of solicitation of prostitution after an online sting operation by law enforcement.

The Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Unit said the suspects believed they were soliciting sex from minors through online and social media platforms, but were actually communicating with detectives.

According to police, the suspects arranged to meet the “minors” in-person for sexual relations. When the suspects arrived at the predetermined locations, they were met by police instead.

The operation was conducted last week, but police released the details on Monday. The 17 men arrested range in age from 24 to 51 years old. The majority are from Virginia, including Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Prince George, Louisa and Virginia Beach, but one suspect is from Maryland.

The man from Virginia Beach was identified as 51-year-old John Blanchard. WAVY News 10 confirmed with the jail that he was arrested on Friday, Oct. 29 and was released on bond on his charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor age 16 or older and using a vehicle to promote prostitution or unlawful sex.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on November 15 on the two charges.

“Although everyone must address their own convictions and consequences, our assignment as believers is not to condemn, but to be agents of God’s love, healing, justice, and reconciliation.”

Excerpt from Rock Church Statement about the accusations

According to the Rock Church website, John Blanchard has been a senior pastor of the Virginia Beach church on Kempsville Road since 2013.

10 On Your Side went to his home in Virginia Beach where he lives with his wife, Pastor Robin Blanchard. No one answered the door. He did not return any of WAVY’s phone calls or text messages either.

A Rock Church live broadcast on Sunday, Oct. 31 showed Blanchard speaking to the congregation.

The Rock Church about us page states that John came from a dysfunctional childhood.

“John’s heart is to reach a generation with a message of hope through the healing and delivering power of Jesus Christ.”

Rock Church Website

WAVY News 10 reached out to Rock Church on Monday night and received this reply from founder Anne Gimenez: “At this time we do not have enough information to make a comment!”

When a WAVY News crew went by the church Tuesday, a man who answered the door said a response would be posted on the website “soon.”

The church released a statement on Facebook on Wednesday morning, saying Blanchard had “voluntarily stepped down” as lead pastor and from all other ministerial duties “until this present situation is totally resolved,” and that they couldn’t comment on the accusations at this time.

The full statement was posted to the Rock Church International Facebook page Wednesday, but the Facebook page has since been taken down. The statement reads, in full:

“Under the guidance of our legal counsel, We can not make a statement or comment concerning the accusations against Rev. John Blanchard at this time.  We are all committed to walking in integrity and truth at Rock Church International and will continue to take steps to do so.  

Pastor Blanchard has voluntarily stepped back as lead pastor and from all his ministerial duties until this present situation is totally resolved.  During this season, Bishop Anne Gimenez will be stepping in as Lead Pastor and sharing the pulpit with Pastor Robin Blanchard.  

As followers of Christ, we must remember that  redemption, salvation, grace, mercy and healing are all gifts given to the children of God. Although everyone must address their own convictions and consequences, our assignment  as believers is not to condemn, but to be agents of God’s love, healing, justice, and reconciliation.  (Romans 3:23-“for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”) If we are to walk in eternity with Christ, our position must be one of truth, love, faith, mercy, justice, and forgiveness.

Thank you for your prayers and support. The outpouring of love has been overwhelming and we appreciate all of those who have reached out to be an encouragement to us!  

We would ask that the privacy of the Blanchard family be respected as they walk through this difficult journey together.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) -Ephesians 2:4-5Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  1 John 3:18

Blanchard’s wife Robin will still be in the pulpit, along with Bishop Anne Gimenez, who’s stepping in as lead pastor.

WAVY photo. Courtesy: Rob Rizzo

This is the list of suspects arrested in the operation:

  • Carlos Angel-Valesquez, 27, of the 2100 block of Mandalay Drive in Richmond. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution;
  • Jonathan M. Austin, 36, of the 12600 block of Queensgate Road. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • John D. Blanchard, 51, of the 5700 block of Warning Street in Virginia Beach. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Daniel E. Boyd Jr., 38, of the 300 block of N. Arthur Ash Boulevard in Richmond. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Nelson D.R. Dudley, 34, of the 12300 block of La Prade Street. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • James D. Eades, 42, of the 4000 block of Peregrine Road. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Michael C. Hall, 50, of the 9100 block of Hartley Hill Court in Henrico. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Ricardo A. Hinojosa Gonzalez, 43, of the 3900 block of W. Chatham Drive in Richmond. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution;
  • Christopher P. Kendrick, 50, of the 00 block of Christra Place in Louisa. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Franklin E. Martinez-Parada, 39, of the 200 block of Gibbs Road in Grasonville, Md. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Gabriel Medrano Flores, 49, of the 4600 block of Kawneer Drive in Henrico. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Efren Mojica Yepiz, 30, of the 9900 block of Suburban Village Trail. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Joshua P. Morris, 28, of the 4400 block of Branchester Boulevard in Prince George. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Craig T. Moulden, 27, of the 11600 block of Davelayne Road. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Danzel M. Roland, 30, of the 200 block of E. Bank Street in Petersburg. Arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution;
  • Sergio A. Terceros Zambrana, 24, of the 00 block of W. Broad Street in Richmond. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution.
  • Taurean R. Thomas, 26, of the 1600 block of Chestnut Park Lane in Richmond. Arrested and charged with felony solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution.

In March, Chesterfield County Police conducted a similar operation that resulted in the arrest of 20 men.

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