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Animated pastor denies sexual assault allegations

Otis Holland’s demeanor shifted nearly as much as he did in his chair Wednesday, as the former Las Vegas pastor denied allegations that he raped several minor girls and sexually assaulted an adult woman.

Holland is on trial for more than a dozen charges, including multiple counts of sexual assault with a minor, bribing or intimidating a witness to influence testimony, and conspiracy to destroy evidence.

Animated from the witness stand, he shouted, hung his head and whispered, propped himself into a stiff upright posture, enunciated his words in a deep tone, and rambled in unresponsive testimony until pressed for direct answers. He cut himself off in midsentence, dabbed tissue at his eye and sometimes shook in the chair as lawyers questioned him about the allegations.

On repeated occasions, after special prosecutor Robert Langford objected to Holland’s meandering responses, he held up his hands in disbelief.

At one point, Langford objected after Holland said, “I’d like to take a lie detector test,” which is not admissible in criminal trials in Nevada.

“I want them to know the truth,” Holland said.

District Judge Stefany Miley briefly recessed the trial, and later told jurors to ignore what Holland said about the polygraph.

Holland said 80 to 100 people attended his United Faith Church, which held services in a storefront on Hacienda Avenue, near Tropicana and Eastern avenues.

He described his sermons as “a little bit country, a little bit redneck, sympathetic, passionate, caring.”

Prosecutors said he met privately with girls under the guise of “counseling” them about sexual issues, and then performed sex acts on them.

Holland told the jury Wednesday that parents approached him with concerns about their children’s sexual activity.

“They were coming to me nonstop every week after church, during the week I was getting calls all the time,” he said, emphasizing his words by slapping his hands together after each phrase.

He said that while he met privately with the girls, he would continually call parents and inform them where their children were.

He admitted to talking about sex in the church and calling girls and women “whores” and “sluts.” But he said he chose those words because of their “colloquial” use among the congregation.

Holland, now 59, fled Southern Nevada in 2011 after Henderson police issued an arrest warrant alleging several counts of sexual assault of a victim younger than 16 years old.

Mexican police arrested Holland in Tijuana in 2012 after Holland’s case was profiled on the “America’s Most Wanted” television program.

Holland was originally 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.

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 in the spring of 2011, authorities said at the time.

A woman testified this week that Holland sexually assaulted her while she was married to another man.

Holland said he was dating the woman at the time.

Defense lawyer Carmine Colucci asked whether the sex was voluntary, and Holland said “she asked me” in a high-pitched tone.

The attacks occurred at locations in Las Vegas and Henderson, including Holland’s home and inside his limousine, according to authorities and testimony from the alleged victims.

“It breaks my heart to sit here and hear what was said yesterday,” he said. “After what I heard about me, I’m so gung ho that I want the jury to hear everything. I apologize.”

— Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker

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