Pastor convicted of sexual assaults

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 16, 2002

A local man who serves as a pastor at a Portsmouth church was convicted Tuesday in Suffolk Circuit Court on charges involving sexual assaults against a female member of his family.

Calvin Jonathan Merritt, 41 years old at the time of the crimes, was found guilty of forcible sodomy, abduction, crimes against nature, and aggravated sexual battery of a child over the age of 13. A charge of kidnapping was not prosecuted.

Merritt, a resident of the 6700 block of Whitewood Street, was charged July 31 with the crimes. He was serving as pastor at Mt. Nebo RZUA Church in Portsmouth.

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When Merritt was first arrested, he was held in Western Tidewater Regional Jail without bail. When a judge later set his bond at $100,000, his congregation put up the bail money.