Congregants disappointed in Inglewood pastor accused of sex abuse
The last time the Rev. Gordon Solomon spoke from the pulpit at Christ's Community Church in Inglewood, he asked the congregation to pray for him and his family as he faced troubling times.
Members assumed the 50-year-old pastor had an illness in the family. But on Wednesday, they discovered Solomon was battling allegations that he had an ongoing relationship with a teenage congregant.
"I didn't think it was something like this," said Walter Woodard, 57, a musician for the church. "But I know I cannot put my faith in the man."
Solomon was charged Friday with nine felony counts of allegedly committing lewd acts on a child. He is being held in lieu of $3-million bail. Authorities believe that there may be other victims.
As a leader of the church, Solomon worked alongside children during Bible classes, computer lessons and choir rehearsal, Woodard said. However, the musician stressed he never witnessed anything inappropriate or unusual.
Sometimes, they would secretly meet up at different locations throughout the city, according to a release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The victim's mother stumbled upon one of the inappropriate texts sent to the girl, authorities said. She called the police immediately.
Solomon was charged with seven counts of committing a lewd act on a child, one count of continuous sexual abuse and one count of oral copulation of a person under the age of 14. He faces up to 26 years and 8 months in state prison if convicted.
Christ's Community Church at 234 Hindry Ave. was formed in 1994 and serves a congregation of 200 people, according to the church's website. In the community, the church was known for its twice-a-week-food pantry, where Solomon and other members passed out fresh produce, canned goods and bread to those in need.
Last year, the church gave out more than $1 million in food and other items to families in the community, according to its website.
"We continue to strive to do more," Solomon wrote.
On Friday morning, several senior citizens arrived at the Inglewood church in time for the weekly food giveaway. A sign posted on the gate didn't mention the turmoil the congregation faces, stating only: "No food giveaway."
Many drove away disappointed but spoke about how the church and Solomon filled a void in this working-class community.
"This helped me out tremendously," said Charles Caldwell, 56, of Inglewood. "It's our main source of food."
Caldwell left empty-handed and returned home to his family of five. But not before inquiring about the next giveaway.
Woodard, the church's musician, had no answers for Caldwell. He was still calling around trying to figure out if the church would have service on Sunday.
-- Angel Jennings in Inglewood