Former Lexington pastor arrested for sex crime, other victims possible say police

Eduardo Elias Cornejo (LPD photo)

Lexington Police Chief Terrence Green announced the arrest of Eduardo Elias Cornejo, 34, Monday. Cornejo is charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct – Third Degree.

At the time of the incident that was reported, Cornejo was an Associate Pastor of the Columbia First Seventh-Day Adventist Church which is located on Riverchase Way in Lexington. In August 2017, Cornejo was terminated as an employee and he and his family relocated out of state.

Cornejo turned himself in to the Lexington Police Department last Thursday and he was transported to the Lexington County Detention Center for booking procedures. Eduardo Cornejo was given a surety bond of $10,000 and he was released later that same day.

On Feb. 22, a victim came forward to report a sexual assault by Eduardo Cornejo that had allegedly occurred in January 2017, in Lexington. The victim reported to officers that Cornejo had met with her and used persuasion and physical force to have sex with her even though she repeatedly told him “no” and made it clear that she did not want to have sexual contact with him. The victim stated that after the encounter Cornejo told her not to tell anyone of the assault.

Due to information gathered during the course of this investigation, detectives believe that Cornejo may have used his position as a pastor to coerce or persuade others to have sex with him or engage in other inappropriate activity.

This information has highlighted the possibility that there may be others who have been sexually assaulted by Cornejo and these victims are being asked to come forward by notifying law enforcement.

Victims of criminal sexual conduct by  Cornejo, or those with information pertinent to this investigation, are asked to contact Detective Cpl. Mike Lawler at 803-358-2067.

Those with questions and who are looking for resources can be assisted by the South Carolina Sexual Trauma Services by calling 803-790-8208, the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 803-771-7273 or by visiting their website for more information.

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