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Former Columbus youth church assistant indicted on four counts of rape, other charges

New Beginnings Church of God in Hilliard
Ryan Hitchcock
The New Beginnings Church of God in Hilliard on May 11, 2020.

A Columbus man was indicted on four counts of rape and other charges for allegedly assaulting multiple minors at a Hilliard church when he was a teenager.

Joshua Pearson is charged with four counts of rape, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and one count of gross sexual imposition, according to court documents.

The alleged crimes took place at the now-dissolved Open Gate Church of God on Avery Road between 2013 and 2014, when Pearson was a youth member and also a minor assisting church staff in the children's and teens rooms. The church has since been renamed New Beginnings Church of God.

Pearson, now 23, also faces separate charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 2021 when he was an adult.

The three minor female victims were 7, 10 and 13 years old at the time.

Pearson was arrested Wednesday and faces over 40 years in prison if convicted.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.