Youth pastor Jonathan Bailey gave the girl M&M’s personalized with her face and the image of a pirogue — an affectionate nickname he gave her, a New Orleans detective testified Friday.
The two would disappear from church group sessions at the same time and return 20 to 45 minutes later, according to notes taken from a police search of First Baptist Church of New Orleans.
Bailey is 34; the girl is 14. Church members were raising eyebrows.
Then, on Feb. 9, another pastor told the girl’s parents that something may have happened between the two. A surveillance video showed Bailey and the girl ducking into a church closet and turning out the lights.
The girl told her parents that Bailey had kissed her and touched her in the closet. Later, in an interview with a specialist, the girl said she and Bailey were “ ‘in a relationship’ and that he loved her and she loved him.”
There were other incidents, she revealed, including one at a church retreat in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Bailey sat in an Orleans Parish courtroom in orange jail scrubs Friday as his public defender tried in vain to persuade a judge to toss out some of the fruits of a search warrant served on the Canal Boulevard church where Bailey worked until he was let go in February.
The allegations have since grown. Bailey, who was arrested Feb. 20, now faces 13 counts of molesting a juvenile, indecent behavior, oral sexual battery on a youth under 15, sexual battery, second-degree kidnapping and obstruction. All of the sexual battery charges stem from the same day: Feb. 4.
The obstruction count appears to stem from allegations that Bailey told the girl to delete notes they exchanged through a covert messaging application.
The relationship began as early as last July 1, according to a March indictment.
Bailey, who remains jailed in lieu of $6.5 million bail, sat silently as Detective Corey Lymous testified Friday about little gifts Bailey gave the girl, which she turned over to police. They included “notes from the victim, customized M&Ms with her picture and Jonathan Bailey’s on ’em,” Lymous said.
Also, “these small pens that he purchased for her. Each one was symbolic of different things. I collected handwritten notes. They were in reference to things that were said from Mr. Bailey to the victim.”
Bailey also gave the girl clothes, pictures and other gifts, according to a police report.
Bailey’s attorney, Sarah Chervinsky, argued that notes found at the church, describing “several odd disappearances” by the girl and Bailey while at church, had no clear author and were outside the scope of a search warrant served at the church.
Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman denied the motion to suppress evidence from the search. Pittman set an Aug. 17 trial date.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.