Jacksonville pastor arrested in 2007 child sexual abuse case in Maryland

Orange Park pastor arrested for suspected child sex crime in Maryland

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — An associate pastor at a Jacksonville church was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a then 17-year-old girl more than a decade ago in Baltimore, Maryland.

Cameron Giovanelli, 42, turned himself into police in Maryland Tuesday on an arrest warrant. Giovanelli currently lives in Orange Park. According to his website, he serves at Immanuel Baptist Church off Normandy Boulevard as an associate pastor and director of Berean Publications.

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He’s charged with the sexual abuse of a minor, perverted practice and 4th degree sexual offense stemming from illegal sexual contact he had with a student at the school between January and August of 2007.

Police said the abuse happened while he was a 29-year-old pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Dundalk, where he served as pastor from 2003 through 2014.

Police believe there may be other victims and hope they will come forward, based on the information provided by the victim.

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Normally Action News Jax doesn’t name sexual abuse victims. However, Sarah Jackson gave us permission to identify her.

In a tweet, Jackson wrote, “15 months. 455 days. I have cried. I have prayed. I have watched my character, integrity and my family be shredded for speaking up. Today, God's timing was revealed. Today, Cameron Giovanelli was arrested for sexually abusing me in high school.”

Court documents detail the relationship and said it started with flirty texts in 2006 and turned physical in 2007 when Jackson was 17.

The report said Giovanelli pulled Jackson out of his wife’s English class and took her to the upstairs office and taught her how to kiss.

Police said the sexual abuse progressed, taking place nearly every day either within the school offices on church grounds or at other off-property locations, including the victim’s grandparent’s house.

The report said the relationship stopped in August 2007 when a youth pastor confronted them.

After the confrontation, Giovanelli sent the youth pastor an email thanking him for saving his life and his ministry, according to the report.

In an interview with “Not Your Mother's Podcast” in May, Jackson said she was groomed by Giovanelli and talked about why it took 11 years for her to report the abuse to police.

“I think having my son and becoming a mom and just feeling like I owed it to other moms to get the word out there. This guy is out there and could do the same thing to your kid. So, I think that’s when that switch happened,” Jackson said.

Action News Jax found a video from 2018 of Giovanelli where he maintained his innocence as his wife stood by his side.

“The allegations made against me are not true. They’re false,” Giovanelli said to the camera.

Following his arrest, Action News Jax reached out to Giovanelli’s attorney for comment.

He said Giovanelli intends to enter a plea of not guilty and is looking forward to the opportunity to defend himself in court.

Anyone who may have additional information or was victimized by Giovanelli is encouraged to contact detectives from the Baltimore County Police Crimes Against Children Unit by calling 410-853-3650.

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