Police, DCF launch investigation after Faith Church youth pastor dismissed

| September 30, 2009

NEW MILFORD — Police and state Department of Children and Families officials are investigating an allegation that the youth pastor at Faith Church, who reportedly was fired last week, engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a high school-aged congregant, a police department spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

A church official said Tuesday that Jason Glaza, 30, a married father of three, was dismissed Thursday, one day after officials learned of an allegation of what they described as "inappropriate conduct” between the pastor and a 16-year-old girl. Glaza has been the Route 7 church’s youth pastor for two years.

The Rev. Frank Santora, the church’s senior pastor, said the allegation was immediately reported to the police and DCF. The senior church leadership team conducted a congregational meeting Thursday night for parents and youth to inform them of Glaza’s dismissal.

New Milford police on Monday confirmed that they received a faxed complaint and would assign the case to one of the department’s youth investigators, who would work jointly with DCF authorities.

DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said he could neither confirm nor deny such a complaint, adding that matters involving youth are confidential and not open for public review.

Police Capt. Michael Mrazik said he could not get into any details about the allegation. However, he was able to confirm that it involves a 16-year-old girl and an accusation of inappropriate sexual conduct.

The complaint suggests the conduct may have occurred in Danbury and New Milford, Mrazik said.

The extent of any sexual wrongdoing would have to be ascertained through the investigation with DCF, Mrazik said.

An adult supervising anyone under the age 18 can be subject to sexual assault charges based on the circumstances of the offense.

"Quite frankly, we are embarrassed and saddened by the allegation,” said Santora, who declined to elaborate on the accusation against Glaza.

He did say this was the first time any alert was sounded about Glaza’s conduct with church youth.

"We take these things very seriously,” Santora said.

A message left for Glaza on his Facebook page was not returned on Tuesday. Other contact information was unavailable.

In what is apparently a separate matter, the state Department of Public Health is involved in an ongoing investigation related to a complaint about Faith Church’s W.O.W. Learning Center, an on-premises child care facility.

DPH spokesman Bill Gerrish said he could not give details related to the complaint or investigation and could not state whether it was any way related to the allegations since Glaza.

Gerrish said no decision has yet been made about any action that might be taken. Once a decision has been reached, the matter becomes public record. Until then, the investigation is closed, he said.

Santora said Tuesday he was unaware of that investigation.

Asked whether Glaza would be able to move to another church, Santora said that is unlikely.

"He is absolutely not going to another church if we have any say in that,” Santora said, adding that he does not believe Glaza has any such intention.

As for the congregation’s response, Santora said he can only say that all are "saddened” by the "unfortunate set of events.”

Santora said he has given the church’s children and their parents his personal commitment to steer the youth program for the foreseeable future.

Once the church leadership is confident that the group is ready, Santora said, he will search for another youth pastor. Faith Church has some 200 youth who participate in its weekly events.

He said the church has tried to be proactive in coping with the current circumstances.

"This calls for strong spiritual leadership, and we’re going to provide that,” Santora said.

New Milford police and the state Department of Children and Families are investigating an allegation that the youth pastor at Faith Church in New Milford, Jason Glaza, engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a high school-aged girl. Church leaders confirmed that they dismissed Glaza from his two-year post last Thursday.

 

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