MARRERO, LA (WVUE) - Police have arrested a Marrero pastor they say raped three juveniles more than a decade ago, and some church members tell us they're shocked and dismayed by the allegations.
Marrero's Second Highway Baptist Church sat empty Thursday, but the people who attend it, are filled with disappointment.
"I'm just shocked, just shocked by it," said neighbor and church-goer Lois Walker.
That's because Sherman Smith Sr., the pastor, is under arrest and facing five charges, including aggravated rape of a victim younger than 13, molestation of a juvenile or a disabled person, sexual battery, and two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
"I have a 6-year-old son," Edryionne Walker said. "I don't want my baby around that church. That makes you question everything."
Neighbors said the church occupied an important place in the community, with school supply giveaways, and picnics for children.
This isn't Smith's first brush with the law. He was arrested in 2010 for aggravated assault, and in 2008 for violation of a protective order.
"I didn't know him that well, but when I went there he seemed to be legit," Lois Walker said.
Smith made his first appearance in Orleans Parish Magistrate Court, where his bond was set at $180,000.
"I hope they find out what's going on, because at the end of the day that's a child," Edryionne Walker said.
Smith's next court appearance is set for January.
Smith has been appointed a public defender.