A Michigan pastor has been charged with 11 felony counts in connection with human trafficking and child sex abuse.
The Rev. Stricjavvar Strickland, the 37-year-old pastor of Kalamazoo’s Second Baptist Church, faces four counts of third-degree sex assault, three counts of child sex abuse and four counts of trafficking a minor for commercial sex activity dating back to 2015, according records from the 8th District Court.
State police reportedly searched Strickland’s home in 2018 but revealed little about the investigation at the time.
“The search warrant was executed based on criminal allegations surrounding criminal sexual conduct and pandering against two individuals and today’s search was part of the investigative process,” police said of the raid, according to local reports.
Additional alleged victims came forward the following year, which prompted Strickland to deny allegations of wrongdoing in 2019, the local news station WWMT reported. Charges weren’t issued until this week.
Strickland’s attorney Michael Hills told the outlet that he was working on arranging his client’s surrender to authorities Monday.
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“It has been two years since these allegations first came forward and Pastor Strickland has remained in contact and available,” he said. “Pastor Strickland remains available and will be in court in the near future.”
Strickland was previously the local NAACP chapter president from 2016 to 2018.
He is also facing an assault charge for an alleged altercation with a former deacon at the Second Baptist Church in 2019.
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Strickland told Michigan news outlet MLive that the deacon’s allegations were “ludicrous.”
“All that I did was try to prevent further assault,” he said.
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He’s expected in court for a hearing connected to those charges on Sept. 30.
There were at least 364 human trafficking cases reported last year in Michigan, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which tracks the numbers in each state. That’s more than double the 155 cases reported there in 2015.
Anyone who suspects human trafficking can call local authorities or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.