A former Las Vegas pastor used his church as an outlet to rape several minor girls, a special prosecutor said Thursday during opening statements of a sexual assault trial.
Otis 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, one count of child abuse and one count of conspiracy to commit a crime.
“Mr. Holland’s church was unique in one very dark way: he had a fundamental belief about spirituality and sexuality,” said Robert Langford, who is prosecuting on the case. “And that’s what this case is going to be about. He believes you could not begin to attain spirituality if you were troubled by your sexuality. And that’s what he preached.”
Holland was the pastor for United Faith Church, which held services in a storefront on Hacienda Avenue, near Tropicana and Eastern avenues. He met privately with the girls under the guise of “counseling” them about sexual issues, and then performed sex acts on them, Langford said.
Holland’s defense lawyer Carmine Colucci told jurors that many parents in the congregation approached Holland about counseling their children on various subjects, such as family struggles and “many teenage-type problems.”
“It wasn’t like a sneaky, come-behind-the-building type of thing, or let’s get in my car and go somewhere,” Colucci said. “He was eccentric, and he didn’t always follow the traditions of a traditional type of church, but you have to look at what he was trying to say and how he was trying to say it, and look beyond just the surface of what you see and here… He’s not this sinister person planning and scheming to commit heinous crimes.”
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.
The incidents occurred at locations in Las Vegas and Henderson, authorities said.
According to an arrest report, one molestation case began in spring 2008.
Two of the victims took the witness stand Thursday. One of the girls testified she was 14 when Holland began “counseling her” after her parents had separated. One day after church, Holland molested her in his limousine, she said. On subsequent Sundays, he brought the girl to a house on Teton Pines Drive in Henderson, near Green Valley and Wigwam parkways, where he fondled and molested her, possibly while videotaping, according to her testimony and police reports.
The molestation ended on Christmas 2009, authorities said.
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