Worshippers at Christ's Community Church in Inglewood, where a leader is accused of lewd acts against a girl, say they don't believe their pastor is capable of such behavior.
"It’s something that I don’t believe. It would take very strong evidence to sway me the other way, so I support my pastor," said Tiphanie Daniels, church member.
There was deep support Friday night for pastor Gordon Barrington Solomon, 50, who had pleaded not guilty earlier in the day to nine felony counts related to alleged lewd acts against a child, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
The alleged acts began when the girl, now 14, was 12 years old, the sheriff's department said in a press release Friday morning.
"These are real trying times to have your leader being accused of such crimes." said Eugene Adolphus, church musician.
Solomon, who is married and reportedly has a college-age daughter, appeared for his arraignment Friday afternoon in the Inglewood branch of Los Angeles Superior Court.
His next court date, a preliminary hearing, was set for July 25. His bail was kept at $3 million.
Solomon met the girl through the church, which is on Hindry Avenue in Inglewood, investigators said. They exchanged emails and text messages of a sexual nature and met at various locations, according to investigators.
The girl's mother contacted authorities after she discovered a sexually explicit text message, according the sheriff's department. Solomon was arrested early Wednesday.
He was charged with seven counts of committing lewd acts on a child, one count of continuous sexual abuse and one court of oral copulation of a person under the age of 14, a press release from the District Attorney's Office said.
According to the complaint filed against Solomon, the most recent alleged "lewd and lascivious" acts occurred between March 12 and July 1.
Investigators said they were trying to determine if there are any other victims.
Solomon's church was closed Friday, and a weekly food giveaway to the poor was cancelled. One congregant said she was very surprised by the allegations.
"He's always very, very pleasant and very nice. He jokes with us, prays with us, just a very nice guy," said one congregant who gave her name only as "Shirley."
Another woman who attended services at the church, Nelfaye Henderson, said she felt very "comfortable" with the pastor, saying he treated congregants "like family." She said she was in disbelief.
The offenses allegedly took place between June 1, 2010 and July 1 of this year.
If convicted, Solomon faces a maximum sentence of 26 years, eight months in state prison.