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.
For roughly 20 years, he had been involved with Calvary Chapel Boise, and he spent another seven years ministering at Common Ground Riders Church, Jeffrey Smith, his defense attorney, said in court Monday. In addition to that, he had a side business called Sound Harvest for about 15 years, Smith said, and that business set up audio equipment for churches and events. Most recently, according to Welty’s Facebook page, he’d been involved with a church called Hard Rock Revival Church in Boise. A website for the church lists him as a pastor there. He referred to the organization as a new church in a late-July social media post.
A phone number listed on the church’s website was no longer working Tuesday afternoon.
Welty has since stopped ministering and is involved in the real estate business, White said. He was still a pastor earlier this month though, said Matt Fouts of the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office. 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.
Bret Welty is accused of entering the girl’s guest room the night of Aug. 9 and touching her inappropriately for 30 minutes to an hour, until interrupted by his wife, Fouts said 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 told the judge Welty had almost no criminal history. In 1996, Welty was convicted of driving without privileges, according to the Idaho Supreme Court’s online repository. It appears to be the only conviction his record.
“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.
According to a statement from the Boise Police Department, detectives believe there may be more victims in the case. Police urge anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS (2677), www.343COPS.com, or leave a tip using the “P3 Tips” app for your mobile device.