Bail was reduced Wednesday for a Carpinteria youth pastor accused of raping and molesting two underage girls.
Louis Joseph Bristol, 28, worked as a youth pastor at the Carpinteria Community Church and as an assistant manager at the Holiday Inn, and he is accused of using his positions at both places to commit crimes against the two girls, according to authorities.
He was booked into County Jail on Feb. 28 by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, with bail set at $2 million bail.
His attorney, Larry Powell, asked Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson to reduce the bail during a hearing Wednesday.
Bristol – who allegedly sent both girls inappropriate text messages and photos – has no criminal record, and has lived in Carpinteria for more than 20 years, so is not a flight risk, Powell argued.
He is married and would move to Goleta with his wife and not have any contact with the church or the Holiday Inn, Inn, Powell said.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman argued that the court’s primary concern is public safety and that Bristol misused his power as a youth pastor.
He sexually harasses people, and “he’s the kind of person who can’t control himself,” she said.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover has said the alleged crimes occurred between late 2012 and early 2013 in vacant rooms at the hotel where Bristol worked.
Powell argued that there isn’t a public safety risk since no new, current victims came forward during law enforcement’s investigations.
Some women came forward who knew Bristol in the past, but “whether or not the allegations are true, they’re very old,” he argued.
Bristol will live in Goleta with his wife and seek employment elsewhere, since neither the church nor the Holiday Inn will let him back for liability reasons, he said.
Bristol’s parents, the parents of the victims and a pastor from the Carpinteria Community Church attended Wednesday’s hearing.
Anderson agreed to reduce Bristol’s bail to $500,000.
Even though the man has no priors, the pending charges are extremely serious, Anderson said.
If he gets out on bail, he will be subject to search and seizure, electronic monitoring, surrendering his passport, staying away from Carpinteria, the church and the Holiday Inn, and is to have no direct or indirect contact with the victims or witnesses, Anderson ordered.
“If you see them, you should be running the other direction as fast as you can,” he told Bristol.
The preliminary hearing in the case, to determine if there is enough evidence to merit a trial, is scheduled for May.
The Carpinteria Community Church released a brief statement after Bristol’s arrest saying its policy is to immediately report all allegations to authorities, as church officials did in this case.
“Our hearts go out to all of those affected by this situation,” the church said. “We will be keeping them in prayer and invite the community to do so as well throughout this process.”