GASTONIA, N.C. -- A former Gastonia pastor pleaded guilty on Friday to charges he had sex with two minors while in Haiti on a church mission.
Larry Michael Bollinger, 67, was indicted last May. He was accused of traveling to Haiti to engage in illicit sexual conduct with two minors. The girls were 11 and 12 years old, authorities have said.
Bollinger initially pleaded guilty to the charges last May. But on Friday, he changed that plea.
He will be sentenced at a later date. Each of the sex charges are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A Lutheran minister for 33 years, Bollinger was pastor at Christ’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Stanley when he and his wife left for Haiti to work with the Lazarus Project in 2004.
A mostly Lutheran ministry, the Lazarus Project runs a vocational school and medical clinic in Haiti.
According to an indictment, the alleged misconduct took place in 2009. A spokesman for The Lazarus Project said Bollinger worked for several years as coordinator, but was removed from the position when the allegations arose.
Prosecutors said four victims were identified, but Bollinger was accused of illicit conduct with two girls.
A federal magistrate in May ordered Bollinger jailed pending his trial.
“The government’s forecast of its evidence is disturbing and suggests the defendant, an ordained minister, repeatedly engaged in sexual conduct with girls as young as 11 and 12 years of age while in Haiti doing relief work,” U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler wrote in his order of detention.
“The defendant has been treated in several settings for mental health conditions and sexual addiction.”