The trial of Corona, California pastor Lonny Remmers, and two members of his small, house-based church on charges that include kidnapping and assaulting a teenage boy, has been postponed to August 26.
Prosecutors allege that Remmers, Nicholas Craig and Darryll Jeter Jr. physically assaulted the 13-year-old boy as a way of disciplining him after his mother brought him to the Heart of Worship group home seeking guidance.
Police say Craig and Jeter took the boy to the desert where they beat him with a shovel and forced him to dig a hole he was told would be his grave.
They later brought him to the pastor’s home, where Remmers is said to have used a pair of pliers to clamp the boy’s nipples. The boy was also tied to a chair and assaulted with pepper spray.
Court records say the assault at Remmers’ home took place during a Bible study session as a circle of men watched.
The three men have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Some time after the alleged assault took place, the boy’s mother, who was also a member of the church, moved in with the pastor.
Last February former Corona police Cpl. Margaret Bell, a member of Remmers’ church, was convicted of failing to report the suspected abuse of the boy.
Defense attorneys for the three men said they needed time to review transcripts from Bell’s trial, and the judge granted their request for the postponement.
Heart of Worship Community Church
The Heart of Worship Community Church reportedly has 15-20 members. Former members of the church refer to it as a cult, telling a local newspaper that Remmers tried to control his followers through intimidation.
According to The Press-Entreprise, Remmers has served time in federal prison for an investment fraud scheme.