Geauga County pastor pleads not guilty to sexual crimes against minors

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 1:55 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 2:38 PM EDT
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GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - A Thompson Township pastor pleaded not guilty to multiple sexual crimes against juveniles at his arraignment in Geauga County Court of Common Pleas Monday afternoon.

The judge ordered Dennis Laferty held on a $100,000 bond.

Laferty, 37, was indicted following an investigation by detectives into allegations of sexual abuse involving minors between Nov. 30 2019 and Jan. 30.

Court documents said Laferty is facing a total of seven charges:

  • Five counts of sexual battery, all third-degree felonies
  • One count of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony
  • One count of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor.

Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz said each of the third-degree felonies hold a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Flaiz confirmed to 19 News Laferty was the pastor at the Thompson United Methodist Church.

According to the Thompson United Methodist Church Admin Council, Laferty has since been suspended as pastor.

We have recently been made aware of very concerning allegations regarding Pastor Dennis Laferty. Please be aware that we...

Posted by TUMC Thompson United Methodist Church on Saturday, March 11, 2023

On Sunday, during the worship service at Thompson United Methodist Church, Western Reserve District Superintendent the Rev. Edgar Brady read the following statement:

“Bishop Tracy S. Malone, resident bishop of our East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church, has suspended Pastor Dennis until further notice.

Earlier this week Pastor Dennis informed me that he is the subject of an investigation by the office of Geauga County Job & Family Services. On Friday he was indicted on several charges and arrested.

I ask that you pray for the Laferty family, pray for all who are impacted by the ongoing investigation, pray for this congregation, and pray for those who will lead you in worship in the coming weeks.”

There is no next court date for Laferty scheduled at this time.