Area pastor pleads not guilty to child molestation charges

ADAM LYNN; The News Tribune

Tacoma, WA
December 5th, 2007

Prosecutors charged a Puyallup pastor with four counts of child molestation Tuesday.

Not-guilty pleas were entered on behalf of the Rev. Forrest Lee Hudson at his arraignment. Hudson, 65, is charged with one count of first-degree child molestation and three counts of second-degree child molestation.

Prosecutors say in court papers that Hudson inappropriately touched and kissed two sisters – now ages 12 and 13 – whose family attends his church.

Hudson’s attorney, Michael Schwartz, said outside court his client will “vigorously fight” the charges.

“He denies the allegations,” Schwartz said.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Vicki Hogan allowed Hudson to remain free on the $100,000 bail he posted following his Friday arrest. She ordered him to have no contact with anyone under 18 but did not preclude him from ministering to his flock.

Hudson is pastor of Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 6606 160th St. E.

The church, which has a predominantly black congregation, made headlines across the nation in 1996 when it was torched by an arsonist. The fire occurred around the time when dozens of blazes were set at predominantly black churches in the South.

The Pleasant Hill congregation moved into a new building two years later.

Pierce County sheriff’s detectives began investigating Hudson last week after receiving a report that he was sexually abusing the two girls.

The older girl told a forensic child interviewer that Hudson began molesting her when she was 12, according to court records. The molestation took place at her home, she said.

Hudson also would give her money, jewelry and shoes, the girl told the interviewer.

The younger girl also was interviewed. She said Hudson began molesting her when she was 11. The girl said Hudson gave her gifts, too, and at one point called her his girlfriend, according to court documents.

“The defendant told her not to tell anyone about being his girlfriend, not to tell about the touching and not to tell about the money he gave her and her sister,” deputy prosecutor Mary Robnett wrote in a sworn affidavit.

Detectives Elizabeth Lindt and Mark Merod interviewed Hudson on Friday.

He told them about being pastor at the church and also said he’d worked as a teacher in the Seattle School District for 27 years before leaving in 1999 after being accused of inappropriately touching a female student, the court documents state.

Hudson said he occasionally gave the girls presents and called them girlfriend, but he also said he called them “dear heart,” according to Robnett’s affidavit.

He denied fondling the sisters but said he may have accidentally bumped into younger girl’s breasts in his small office, the affidavit states.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644

SNAP Note:  Forrest Hudson and Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Puyallup, WA are shown as being SBC-affiliated.