Orange County church worker faces sex charges

Man forced teen to have sex with him, deputies say

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A worker at New Destiny Christian Church has been arrested and charged with forcing a teenager with diminished mental capacities to have sex with him.

Joseph Averitt, 33, was arrested Wednesday after the victim, who has an I.Q. of 70, alerted authorities.

According to his arrest report, Averitt told the teenage victim he had a crush on her since last summer after he saw her in a bikini.

Soon afterward, he started giving her massages, and he eventually started fondling her, according to the report.

She told investigators they have had sex at least eight times over the last year.

She said one of those times was in a booth inside the church sanctuary.

She said another time was in his car while his wife was shopping at the mall. She told investigators his young child was in the car seat in the back at the time they had sex.

Averitt was arrested and booked at the Orange County Jail Wednesday.  He's being held on $51,500 bond.

At his first court appearance Thursday morning, a judge told him to have no contact with the victim or anyone under the age of 16.

Averitt was a video production engineer for the televised productions of Pastor Paula White.

The church told Local 6 Thursday they fired him as soon as they found out about the allegations.

New Destiny Christian Center released a statement, which said: "We are shocked and saddened by the allegations that have been made against one of our former employees.  We have cooperated and continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement in their investigation of this matter.   We only want the truth to come out, whatever that may be.  Out of an abundance of caution we have terminated the employment of Mr. Averitt, a Production Engineer.   We are in prayer for all involved and trust that healing and truth will prevail.  Due to this being a pending matter and out of our respect for the privacy of all those impacted, we have no further comment at this time."?

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