December 20, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
28°F
test

Westlake pastor pleads not guilty to sex charges

Attorney Jack Bradley stands with his client Paul Endrei, the senior pastor at Church on the Rise, as he is arraigned on sex charges. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Attorney Jack Bradley stands with his client Paul Endrei, the senior pastor at Church on the Rise, as he is arraigned on sex charges. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Paul Endrei, the senior pastor at Westlake’s Church on the Rise, pleaded not guilty Thursday to sex charges during his first appearance in Lorain County Common Please Court.

Endrei, 53, is accused of molesting a girl he knew beginning in 2005, with sexual conduct also occurring with the girl in 2009, 2010 and 2013. He also is accused of having sexual relations with the girl while he was in a position of authority over her in 2013, according to court documents.

He faces two counts of sexual battery and four counts of gross sexual imposition.

His son, 26-year-old Jordan Endrei, who also is a pastor at Church on the Rise, is accused of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with the same victim, when she was about 14 years old, between June 2010 and June 2011.

The younger Endrei is due in court for his arraignment next week.

Avon police conducted the investigation, but neither they nor prosecutors have released many details of the allegations against the pair.

Lorain defense attorney Jack Bradley, who represents both Endreis, said his clients deny any wrongdoing.

Bradley said he hasn’t seen the full scope of the evidence against the Endreis, but said the alleged victim has a troubled past, including prior sexual abuse claims that have been proven false.

“When we get the discovery and see if there were any forensics, like DNA, we will be prepared to supply prosecutors with our information,” he said.

The Church on the Rise has backed Paul Endrei against the allegations against him in a news release.

“We pray that this troubled adolescent receives the help and counseling she needs,” the statement said. “The church believes in our legal system and that the truth will come out.”

The church has declined additional comment since releasing the statement last week.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.