Catoosa Youth Pastor Arrested On Sex Crimes Against Children
Dan Bewley, News On 6
CATOOSA, Oklahoma -- A man who claims to be a youth minister in Rogers County has been arrested for sex crimes against children.
Joe Cheater Jr., 39, is charged with seven counts of lewd molestation and four counts of rape. All the victims are young girls under 14 years old.
The case all stems from allegations going back to 2005. Investigators in Rogers County say Joe Cheater Jr. molested at least 5 young girls who were friends of his family.
"I think there's a special place in hell for these people," said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton. "Certainly, predator would be the best thing I would say about an individual like this that would victimize a 9-year-old child, a 14-year-old child."
Sheriff Walton says it all took place when Cheater was living in the former Lake Valley Mobile Home Park in Catoosa from 2005 to 2008. The park has now been closed.
Investigators say the girls were all friends of Cheater's children and it may have happened when they were spending the night in his home.
Cheater has told investigators he has worked as a youth minister for Catoosa area churches and as a scout leader for the Cub Scouts. But he hasn't said which church or which scout group and that has detectives asking for help from the public.
"We certainly have no reason to doubt the fact that he was involved with area churches. What those churches are right now, we don't know exactly which churches," Walton said.
"Ninety percent of the people who molest our kids are people we know and trust and people our kids know and trust," said author Sharon Doty.
Doty is an expert on sexual predators. She recently helped the Catholic Church implement a plan to protect its young parishioners.
She says sexual predators use their position of authority to gain the trust of children and it's important for parents to lookout for warning signs.
"You have to keep your eye on the adults to determine are they actually secluding children? Do they draw them away from the other adults in the environment?" She said.
Sheriff Walton says it's been three years since these allegations and he's worried there may be more victims.
The sheriff hopes someone recognizes Cheater as someone who may have volunteered at the church or in their scout group.
If he looks familiar you're asked to call the Rogers county tipline at 918-341-3620.