A pastor and two of his members pleaded guilty after torturing a 13-year-old boy who sexually assaulted his younger sister. Lonny Lee Remmers is pastor of the Heart of Worship Community Church in Corona, California. The small church consisted of about 20 members at any one time who met in places around Corona, including Remmers’ home on Sloan Drive. Many of the members were single mothers or men needing a place to re-establish their lives after leaving jail.
The boy had been living in the group home with his mother and sister until March of 2012. The boy’s mother asked the pastor to discipline her son and teach him how to be a man. The church operated a group home where Pastor Remmers, for a fee, gave them what they needed such as food, clothing and shelter. Remmers was known as the ultimate authority; he dictated what the members could watch, read and who they could date. The 56-year-old pastor was also in charge of discipline, which led to the boy’s torture.
Under the direction of the pastor, Remmers’ stepson Nicholas James Craig and Darryll Duane Jeter Jr. took the young boy out into the desert. They forced the child to dig his own grave and then forced him inside. The boy told authorities that he dug in the ground for about 90 minutes and after being forced into the makeshift grave he was advised that his behavior would determine whether he lived or died.
When the youngster tried to escape the grave the men threw dirt on him and struck him with belts. Eventually he was let out of the hole but his torture was not over. He was returned to the group home and stripped naked before being tied to a chair. Both of his hands and feet were bound to the chair with zip ties and he was put in the shower.
The torture continued as the teenager was sprayed in the face with mace and not allowed to remove it for 30 minutes. His nose and mouth began to bleed but that did not matter to his abusers. He was in such great pain that he tossed his head side to side causing blood to be thrust upon the walls of the shower. The men then rubbed salt into the boys wounds to increase the pain.
After this round of torture was over the boy was taken to Remmers’ home for Bible study. During the study session the pastor asked for a pair of pliers and commenced to pinch the boy’s nipples as others watched. The 13-year-old screamed in pain. A few months later the boy’s mother moved in with the pastor and his wife forcing the victim to live with his abuser.
The pastor pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly non-firearm weapon and inflicting corporal injury on a minor. He is scheduled to be sentenced September 26. The Riverside County district attorney’s office will seek a two-year sentence, spokesman John Hall said.
In an earlier plea bargain 24-year-old Craig and 30-year-old Jeter pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a child and making criminal threats and. They were sentenced to a year in custody that will be served in home confinement and three years probation. According to Hall,
Our agreeing to these pleas was based in part on the current state of the evidence in the case. There were new developments, which we will not be discussing, that caused us to believe this was the best disposition for all those involved. The victim and his family did not want this to proceed to trial, and we also considered that aspect.
Jim Forbes, who helped Remmers establish his ministry in Riverside County before splitting with him, said the congregation remained loyal to the pastor even after his arrest. He believes if Remmers got sent to jail for 20 years it would not matter because his cult following is so strong.
Former members have accused the pastor of tearing their families apart and being the instrument of violent discipline. According to many that know Remmers, he has left a trail of emotional, physical and financial pain since the late 1980s. Marian Craig said whenever she cries for the daughter and grandson she has not seen in many years she thinks of the man responsible for tearing her family apart. John McLaughlinas said every time his shoulder hurts he is reminded of the man who attacked him over 23 years ago. The man these “witnesses” are referring to is Lonny Remmers.
The pastor of Heart of Worship Community Church along with two of his members tortured a 13-year-old boy and forced him to dig is own grave. Lonny Lee Remmers was asked to discipline the boy after he sexually assaulted his seven-year-old sister but went entirely too far. The pastor pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly non-firearm weapon and inflicting corporal injury on a minor. He is scheduled to be sentenced September 26.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)