The pastor of a Southern California church pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he tortured and abused a 13-year-old boy back in 2012, even once twisting the boy’s nipples with pliers during a Bible study session, in order to “discipline” the 13-year-old and make him “accept responsibility for his actions.”
Lonnie Lee Remmers, by copping a guilty plea, dodged charges that he also kidnapped the boy, which if he’d been convicted could have sent him to prison for a long time. Remmers, 56, is expected to receive a sentence comparable to the one handed down to members of Remmers’ Heart of Worship Community Church in Corona, California.
Nicholas James Craig, 24, and Darryll Duane Jeter Jr., 30, accepted a plea deal that gives them each a year of home confinement and three years probation.
Most of the 15 to 20 members of Remmers’ church, which convened at Remmers own home and several other locations in Corona, were single mothers from troubled backgrounds and male convicts just out of jail. According to The Riverside Press-Enterprise, Remmers provided his congregants with food, shelter and clothing — though not all for free — but ruled over them with an iron hand, dictating even intimate details of their personal lives.
The 13-year-old boy in the child abuse case was brought to Remmers by his mother after the troubled teen allegedly sexually assaulted his own seven-year-old sister.
In addition to the Bible study pliers incident, Remmers, Craig and Jeter took the boy to the desert, beat him with belts, forced him to dig his own grave, then made him lie in the grave while they threw dirt on him.
Under Remmers’ orders, police said, the men brought the beaten and terrified boy back to Remmers’ home where they tied him naked to a chair with zip ties and maced him.
The men also rubbed salt in the wounds across the boy’s back that they had earlier inflicted, lacerations that were so bad the boy bled all over the house.
“It was a hare-brained idea that got out of control and should’ve never gone that far,” an attorney for Jeter, Rodney Nosratabadi, said. “I’m more than optimistic that this kind of action won’t occur again.”
The plea bargains came as a result of “new developments,” said John Hall of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, but Hall refused to say what the new developments were. He also said that the victim and his mother did not want the case to go to trial.
Lonnie Lee Remmers is set to be sentenced in September.
[Image: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department]