A Florida rabbi has been arrested after allegedly molesting and impregnating a 15-year-old girl.
Lloyd Haughton, 41, of the Synagogue Beth Israel, had been under investigation since March 31 when the 15-year-old girl told police that Haughton had been sexually abusing her for two years. She alleged that Haughton had touched her breast and genital area.
WKMG reports that the girl was an extended family member of Haughton's and had been living with him since she was 8 years old. She said Haughton would sneak into her room at night and molest her.
Haughton denied the allegations when he was questioned by investigators.
In April, the girl's mother contacted police and said her daughter had been impregnated by Haughton. The girl later aborted her pregnancy.
On June 21, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement informed police that DNA tests had identified Haughton as the fetus' biological father. Haughton was arrested the same day and charged with sexual battery by a custodian of a victim under 18 years of age. He reportedly denies the charges.
Haughton had been associated with the Synagogue Beth Israel for about seven years. As a local rabbi, he was in regular contact with teens and children. Police are now asking the public for help in determining whether Haughton victimized any other minors.
"At a minimum, have some conversations with your children, and make sure there isn't a need to contact us for anything," Sanford Police public information officer Bianca Gillett told WKMG.
The Synagogue Beth Israel issued the following statement in response to Haughton's arrest:
"Immediately upon hearing the news, Lloyd Haughton was released of his duties and is no longer affiliated with Synagogue Beth Israel. This is very sad and time is needed for us to heal from the entire matter. I'm sure you'll understand."
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the synagogue is a Messianic Congregation. As such, it is considered by most Jews to be Christian, not Jewish.
Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith released a personal statement in which he accused Haughton of exploiting the community's trust.
"It is always disheartening when people in positions of authority violate and abuse the trust that is bestowed upon them," Smith said. "I hope the congregation and community can come together to heal and repair the trust that has been shattered."
During Haughton's first appearance in court on June 22, the judge announced that she was denying him bail after having previously set it at $35,000, according to WESH.