BOISE — An Ada County pastor has been charged with two felonies after police and prosecutors say he inappropriately touched a 15-year-old girl staying in his home earlier this month.
Bret Welty, 48, is charged with sexual abuse of a minor younger than 16 years old, and lewd conduct with a minor younger than 16 years old. He has been involved in ministry for about 20 years, said Matthew Fouts, of the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, in court Monday afternoon.
For roughly two decades, he ministered to the congregation at Calvary Chapel Church, and he spent another seven years ministering at Common Ground Riders Church, Fouts said. In addition to that, he had a side business called Sound Harvest for about 15 years, Fouts said, and that business set up audio equipment for churches and events.
Welty has since stopped ministering and is involved in the real estate business, his attorney, Jeffrey White, said in court Monday. He was still a pastor earlier this month.
One of the members of his congregation was a 15-year-old girl who was having family troubles and living with anxiety. The family felt it might help her to spend a weekend at the Welty household, where Welty lived with his wife, 15-year-old son, and 24-year-old stepdaughter. She was at the home Aug. 9.
Police and prosecutors say that night Welty entered her room and touched her inappropriately. He continued to touch her for between 30 minutes and an hour, until he was interrupted by his wife, Fouts explained in court.
“The defendant confessed to his conduct,” Fouts said. “He stated that he’d struggled with such behavior before, although not with victims of this age, this young age.”
Fouts asked Magistrate Judge Michael Lojek to set Welty’s bail at $350,000. Smith asked for far less.
“He’s been a pillar of...various churches that he was ministering at, and I would just ask the court to set bond at $25,000,” Smith said.
Lojek set Welty’s bond at $250,000. He also ordered Welty stop ministering, until given permission from the court “so as to protect any other...vulnerable potential victims he may come into contact with in that capacity.”
Lojek said he considered the nature of the relationship between Welty and the girl. It was unique, given that he was her pastor, and the pastor for the rest of her family. He issued two no contact orders in the case, barring Welty from having contact with the girl, as well as with her father.
He set the case’s next court date for Aug. 29.