Colo. Pastor Faces Charges Of Sexually Assaulting Children In Wife's Day-Care

Monday, March 26th 2007, 5:46 pm
By: News On 6

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (AP) _ A pastor faces charges of sexually assaulting two children in his wife's home day-care at least a dozen years ago, authorities said Monday.

Stephen J. Heese, 51, pastor of The Church in South Denver, is accused of assaulting a girl, now 16, and her brother, now 19, when they attended the day-care operation between 1992 and 1994.

He faces two counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and two counts of sexual assault on a child with a pattern of conduct. The charges were filed last month. Heese, who is free on $25,000 bond, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Heese denies the allegations and his church is supporting him, said Ray Brown, a church elder. ``It is the church's position that the accusations are false. We stand behind Steve. He has denied it and we totally believe him,'' Brown said.

Heese's home phone was disconnected and Brown said Heese was not commenting publicly. Heese is still employed at the church, where he has been pastor for 27 years, Brown said.

The siblings told authorities a year ago they were assaulted, said Pam Russell, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County district attorney. Russell said it was not unusual for the investigation in such a case to take a year. Russell said investigators believe there may be other alleged victims.

If convicted of all four counts, Heese could face a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to a lifetime of supervision.

Brown said the church is non-denominational and has between 200 and 300 members.