Former Las Vegas pastor arrested in Mexico on sex charges


The former pastor of a Las Vegas church was arrested Wednesday in Mexico on multiple sexual assault charges involving minors.

Otis Holland, 55, of Henderson fled Southern Nevada in June after Henderson police issued an arrest warrant alleging 11 counts of sexual assault of a victim younger than 16 years old, one count of child abuse and one count of conspiracy to commit a crime, Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul said Thursday.

A tipster alerted the U.S. marshals after Holland's case was profiled on the "America's Most Wanted" television program.

In a statement, Paul said Mexican police arrested Holland without incident in Tijuana on Wednesday night.

He was deported and was in a San Diego jail Thursday awaiting extradition to Henderson, Paul said.

David Clohessy, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he hopes anyone who might have been preyed upon by Holland has the courage to go to police and start the healing process.

SNAP is a nonprofit advocacy group based in Chicago.

"We applaud law enforcement officials for catching Rev. Holland," Clohessy said in an emailed statement.

Speaking to the larger issue of abuse by clergy, Clohessy said: "Child molesters must learn that fleeing the country is only a short-term strategy, and that they'll sooner or later be nabbed."

Holland was arrested in December 2010 on three counts of sexually assaulting a victim younger than 16. A subsequent investigation led detectives to believe there were other victims, Paul said.

Holland was arrested again in January 2011 on a charge of lewdness with a minor younger than 14 years.

Two more girls came forward late last spring, Paul said. Holland's arrest warrant was based on the latest allegations from the two girls.

The incidents occurred at various locations in Las Vegas and Henderson, according to authorities.

Holland was the pastor for United Faith Church, which held services in a storefront on Hacienda Avenue, near Tropicana and Eastern avenues.

According to an arrest report, one molestation case began in spring 2008.

A girl told Henderson police she was an eighth-grader when Holland began "counseling her" after her parents had separated. One day after church, Holland molested her in his limousine, she told police in the report.

He told her not to tell anyone "because he would go to prison for a long time," the report said. "Reverend Otis also said that if she said anything, he would be ruined because of her."

On the next four Sundays, Holland brought the girl to a house on Teton Pines Drive in Henderson, near Green Valley and Wigwam parkways, to "speak with her," she told detectives. Each time he fondled and molested her, possibly while videotaping, according to police.

"He made me believe this was counseling," she told investigators.

The molestation ended on Christmas 2009, according to authorities.

She told detectives he once told her he "was doing this to save her life and make sure she was always safe with sex," the report said. "He didn't want her to be naive and get taken advantage of."

The girl told police of at least two other possible victims.

Paul urged anyone with information on Holland's case to call Henderson police at 267-4750. Anonymous calls can be made to Crime Stoppers at 385-5555.

Review-Journal writer Antonio Planas contributed to this report. Contact reporter Doug McMurdo at dmcmurdo@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.

 

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