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Charges Dismissed Against Virginia Beach Pastor Accused of Soliciting Sex with Minor

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All charges against Rock Church International Pastor John Blanchard for his alleged involvement in soliciting sex with a minor were dismissed Tuesday after a request from Chesterfield County prosecutors. 

During Tuesday's court hearing, the prosecutor told the judge that after reviewing the charges, the case would be nolle pros. That term means the charges would be dropped but could be refiled again at a later date if prosecutors felt they had enough evidence against Blanchard to move forward, WVEC-TV reported. 

According to the outlet, after the court hearing, Blanchard's attorney said he was "pleased with the outcome" of the case.

As CBN News reported, Blanchard, 52, stepped down from his leadership role at the church after his arrest in October of last year.  He was one of 17 men accused of solicitation of prostitution after law enforcement officers posed as minors during an undercover operation, WAVY-TV reported.

Members of the Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Unit had been communicating with the suspects online and through social media platforms. Police accused the men, who ranged in age from 24 - 51, of planning to engage in sexual relations with the juveniles.

Blanchard was released from police custody just a few days after his arrest and preached the gospel on stage during the Rock Church's Facebook live stream on Oct. 31, 2021. 

Blanchard's wife Robin Gimenez Blanchard had posted a response on Facebook which has now been removed. It said in part, "I think each of us has judged someone or something prematurely, and we have also probably experienced the pain of being judged that way. Lord, forgive us! We need to give each other the benefit of the doubt! We need to look closely enough and long enough to see the big picture before we rule things out. Why? Because God does that for us all the time."

According to WAVY, the church released a statement posted to Facebook on Nov. 3, 2021, revealing that Blanchard had "voluntarily stepped back as lead pastor and from all other ministerial duties" until the matter is resolved. 

"As followers of Christ, we must remember that redemption, salvation, grace, mercy and healing are all gifts given to the children of God," the church stated. "Although everyone must address their own convictions and consequences, our assignment as believers is not to condemn, but to be agents of God's love, healing, justice, and reconciliation." 

The Blanchards have served as the church's lead pastors since 2013.  During John Blanchard's absence, Robin served as the pulpit pastor while Bishop Anne Gimenez took over as the lead pastor of the church.

According to the church's website, the non-denominational Rock Church has more than 500 churches in several countries.

Blanchard was released on bond shortly after his arrest and his case had been repeatedly postponed since then, according to The Virginian-Pilot

The newspaper reports Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Alexander Michev said during a hearing in April the two sides were working toward a resolution in the case. 

CBN News reached out to Rock Church International for comment. We'll post it here if we hear back. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of