A youth pastor at Highlands Church of Christ in Lakeland was arrested Tuesday on accusations that he tried to have sex with a 17-year-old girl in his youth group, the Polk County Sheriff’s office announced.
Officials at Highlands Church of Christ reported the pastor, 29-year-old Andrew Pierce Weaver, to the sheriff’s office after learning of his behavior, sheriff’s officials said. Weaver has been arrested on charges of attempted unlawful sex with a minor and interference with child custody.
For several months, Weaver maintained an inappropriate, informal relationship with the teen, Sheriff Grady Judd said in a news conference Wednesday. The teen told sheriff’s officials that Weaver frequently looked at nude personal photos she stored on her cell phone, though he asked that she not share them with him electronically.
In late December, Weaver and the girl met in the church parking lot and drove to the Best Western motel in Mulberry with the intention of having a sexual encounter. The two were interrupted by a cleaning staff worker who knocked on the door. The knock startled Weaver and ended the encounter before the two engaged in sexual activity, sheriff’s officials said.
Weaver acknowledged to investigators that he drove the girl to the motel room, and Best Western records verify the timeline, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
Weaver told sheriff’s officials that he believed he’d “crossed a line” with the girl, the news release states.