A Colwood youth pastor has been charged with sexual exploitation over an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship with a sixteen-year-old girl in 2007 and 2008.
Ira Parmenter, 33, was arrested in Grand Falls-Windsor, NL., last Friday (May 11).
Parmenter was a youth pastor with the Colwood Pentecostal Church between 2003 and 2009.
The alleged crimes took place between July 2007 and November 2008, when Parmenter was 28 years old. The girl’s mother became aware of the situation after the fact, in April 2011, and reported it to the police. An investigation has been ongoing since then.
He is being charged for sexually exploiting a young person (defined as a person over 16 and under 18) while in a “position of trust or authority.” If found guilty, Parmenter could get up to 10 years in jail.
In the years since the alleged crime, Parmenter has been living in Newfoundland with his wife.
Colwood Pentecostal Church Pastor Al Funk said that Parmenter left his position in the fall of 2009 on his own accord and that church staff had no knowledge of the alleged crime until the mother came forward. Church staff have been cooperating with the RCMP throughout the investigation.
“We’re saddened for the people who have been impacted by it, we’re saddened for what has been done and it’s a sad day for us,” Funk said. “He wasn’t fired, he wasn’t dismissed and nobody knew anything about this until after he was gone.”
The church has been providing counselling to church members and staff, both in groups and individually.
“Anybody who wants to or has been impacted by this, we have told them that the door is open, that they can come and talk to us anytime,” Funk said.
In a 2008 article in BC Christian News, church lead pastor Funk gave high praise of Parmenter, stating that “We have a successful youth program that is run by Ira Parmenter – a great youth pastor. I hesitate to give you his name, because I don’t want anyone to steal him away from us. His wife Rochelle runs an excellent children’s program.”
Parmenter is scheduled to appear in court on June 21 at the Western Communities courthouse. He has been released on his own recognizance and has been required to give up his passport and is not allowed to be in the company of any girls under the age of 18 without other adults present.
RCMP say they have not received any other reports of sexual misconduct related to Parmenter but are asking anyone with information on any similar circumstances to speak with investigators.