A former Lutheran minister from Gaston County testified Friday that he suffered from a sexual addiction when he was accused of molesting two minor girls during a 2009 mission trip to Haiti.
During his sentencing hearing, Larry Michael Bollinger, 68, also detailed years of frequenting adult book stores and prostitutes during his decades as a minister at various churches.
U.S. District Judge Bob Conrad is presiding over a hearing that began this morning and is scheduled to continue this afternoon.
Bollinger filed a conditional guilty plea in January 2013, telling U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer: I would not be here if I had not confessed what I had done.
Bollinger was a minister for 33 years, his last stint at the time of his arrest as pastor at Christs Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Gaston County town of Stanley. Since 2004, he and his wife had traveled to Haiti, where Lazarus Project, a mostly Lutheran ministry, runs a vocational school and medical clinic.
In previous court proceedings, Bollingers attorneys said he had a record of doing a lot of good for Haitians.
Yet in indictment documents in May 2012, prosecutors accused Bollinger of traveling to Haiti to engage in illicit sexual conduct with two minor girls, one 11 and the other 12. The indictment said the improper activity took place in 2009. A spokesman for the Lazarus Project said Bollinger had worked as a mission coordinator for a several years, but once the allegations arose, he was dismissed.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Bollinger and his wife would travel to Haiti together, but shed return home before him. The illicit activity, prosecutors said, took place after she left.
In late 2009, the Bollingers traveled to Houston, Tex., for counseling, court documents say. Bollinger signed an agreement with his counselor that any disclosure about child abuse or exploitation would not be confidential and would be reported to authorities.
In those counseling sessions, Bollinger confessed to sexually abusing several Haitian children on multiple occassions, prosecutors said. After the confession, the counselor notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to report the abuse.
During that call, Bollinger said hed sexually molested four girls between the ages of 11 and 16, prosecutors said.
The case was referred to the federal Homeland Security Investigation office in Charlotte and the four victims were interviews. They corroborated his confession, prosecutors said.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less