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Tampa youth pastor arrested and charged with sexual battery on juvenile

Samuel Armand Sutter, 26, is accused of a sexual relationship with a juvenile girl.
Samuel Armand Sutter, 26, is accused of a sexual relationship with a juvenile girl.
Published Jun. 20, 2016

TAMPA — A youth pastor at Openwater Church in Odessa was arrested Saturday and charged with sexual battery on a juvenile, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Samuel Armand Sutter, 26, of Tampa faces five counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a victim aged 12 to 16, and five counts of sexual battery.

Sutter "began a sexual relationship" with a girl who attends Openwater Church in October 2015, deputies said in a news release. Their relationship "escalated to numerous sexual encounters," mostly at Sutter's home but twice in the women's bathroom at the church on Race Track Road, deputies said.

The victim's mother found photos, videos and texts of a sexual nature on her daughter's phone, deputies said, and the daughter told her mother about the relationship. The mother then called the Sheriff's Office.

A message left for the church late Sunday was not immediately returned.

According to the church's website on Sunday, Sutter oversees students in grades 6 through 12, as well as college students. He also facilitates the church's concert ministry. He was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail.

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