Youth pastor charged with sex crimes, former church attendees speak out
CHARLEVOIX COUNTY, Mi (WPBN/WGTU) -- A youth pastor from Boyne City was charged Thursday with sex crimes after he was caught taking video of two young girls in the shower at his home.
Police said a family from downstate was visiting their former pastor in Boyne City when their 18-year-old daughter found a camera in the bathroom shower. She realized it had footage of her and her 15-year-old sister on it, and she told her parents.
Benoni Enciso, also known as Jon Enciso, was charged with possession of child sexual abusive material, surveilling people without clothes on, eavesdropping and using a computer to commit a crime.
Boyne City Police are continuing to investigate Enciso.
“We have collected evidence from the scene, and we’ll be analyzing that evidence including computers and other data collecting devices, and we’ll see if there was any other incidents involved with him,” said Boyne City Police Chief Jeff Gaither.
Most recently, Enciso worked at the Stutsmanville Chapel in Harbor Springs.
In an email to 7&4 News and ABC 29&8 Friday afternoon Stutsmanville Elder Thom Blanck says:
Benoni “Jon” Enciso was arrested on Tuesday on charges related to conduct which occurred at his home in Boyne City, Michigan. Mr. Enciso was employed as an administrator at our church at the time. The Church screens the background of potential employees prior to offering them employment; this process includes checking whether or not a person is listed on a sex offender registry and reviewing their criminal history. At the time of his hiring Mr. Enciso was not listed on any sex offender registry, nor did he have a criminal record. Following the disclosure of the allegations made this week, Mr. Enciso’s employment with the Church was terminated. The Church will be fully cooperating with the Boyne City Police Department as it investigates this matter. While the family involved were not parishioners of our Church, our hearts and our thoughts are with them at this time. We would encourage anyone with additional information to reach out to the Boyne City Police Department (231) 582-6611.
Several former church members have said they left the church because of Enciso.
Elise Page went to the chapel and had her teenage daughter in the its youth program.
“He just gave my daughter and myself an eerie feeling," Page said. "There was something off. Just didn’t feel comfortable with him at all."
As the director of family life, Page said Enciso was in charge of youth ministry.
“He didn’t want any adults in anything he was doing with the kids,” Page said.
Another reason Page and some former church leaders left is that they heard accusations of Enciso acting inappropriately at his previous church.
“Other inappropriate things with other youth, female youth people at other churches," Page said. "They’re allegations and they were never proven, but I did bring it forth to the people that needed to know about it and they chose to look the other way.”
Court papers did not show Enciso having a criminal record.
Authorities say Enciso had known the girls' family for a long time.
“The suspect had gained the trust of this family and was in a position of trust," Gaither said. "It’s very disappointing that someone would abuse that trust and especially take these kinds of videos with a minor and exploit them for their own gain."
Several other former members of the church who did not want to be named said they left because of Enciso and what they had heard about him.
Elise Page said at least a dozen other people left the church for the same reason.
Enciso plead not guilty and is being held with a $50,000 bond.