GASTONIA, N.C. --A federal grand jury has indicted a Gastonia pastor on charges of having sex with two minors in Haiti.

According to a bill of indictment filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Larry Michael Bollinger did knowingly travel...from the United States to Haiti, and engage in illicit sexual conduct with two minors less than 18 years of age.

Both counts occurred in 2009 between Aug. 1 and Nov. 18, according to court documents.

An Observer article from 2004 stated that Bollinger and his wife had done volunteer work with the House of Mercy, a residential care facility in Belmont for individuals in the advanced stages of AIDS.

At the time, Bollinger, a Lutheran pastor for 33 years, was about to leave for Haiti to work with The Lazarus Project, a mostly Lutheran ministry that runs a vocational school and medical clinic and gives other assistance.

On Wednesday, the Rev. Ron Qualley, coordinator of the Lazarus Project, said Bollinger had worked in Haiti for several years as a coordinator.

But when the sexual accusations first came to light in 2009 he was immediately removed from that position, said Qualley, who lives in Fairfax, Va. This is not anything we condone.

The Lazarus Project has been in Haiti for 16 years and during Bollinger s time there he did very good work, Qualley said.

The accusations against Bollinger came as a shock, Qualley said, but ministry in Haiti goes on and we ve haven t seen an impact from this (accusations.) .

The people of Haiti depend on our good work, he said. We re trying to do the best we can.
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