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CA Student Minister at Acts 29 Church Arrested on Child Sex Assault Charges

By Josh Shepherd
michael sasser modesto
Michael Sasser, student ministry pastor at Redeemer Church in Modesto, California, has been arrested on charges of child sexual assault. (Photo via social media)

A student ministry pastor at a California church affiliated with the Acts 29 Network has been arrested on three charges of child sexual assault. 

Michael Sasser, 40, was arrested on March 23, after turning himself in at the Modesto Police Department in central California. He is being held on three charges, including forcible sexual penetration, continual sexual abuse of a child, and lewd and lascivious acts with a child. 

Sasser previously served as pastor-deacon of student ministry at Redeemer Church in Modesto, an evangelical church affiliated with the Acts 29 Network of churches. According to the criminal complaint, Sasser molested a family member in three incidents that occurred last year. The alleged victim was age 14 or younger, according to the charges which were first reported to police on March 8. 

Redeemer Church lead pastor Patrick Nagle told The Roys Report (TRR) that Sasser, co-director of the church’s student ministry, resigned on February 28. Nagle stated that Sasser told the church the resignation was for “personal reasons” and “to focus on himself and his family.”

Nagle said Sasser’s resignation occurred “before anyone had knowledge of any incident or abuse.” In a statement to TRR, Modesto Police Department (MPD) spokeswoman Sharon Bear confirmed that the church was notified of the criminal investigation of Sasser after his arrest. 

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“There is no evidence from official police and CPS investigation of any abuse outside of his family,” said Nagle. “And we have not received any information or allegations from church members outside of his family regarding incidents of abuse with Mr. Sasser.”

Bear confirmed that MPD has also not received reports of any additional victims. 

Nagle added to a local news outlet that: “We made it clear as well to parents that he is no longer allowed to serve in any capacity here or allowed in the building.” 

Sasser had served as a volunteer co-director of the church’s student ministry since August 2021. He previously served as an elder for about three years, starting in 2015.

Nagle said that the church’s “policies regarding safety and children have been reviewed since first hearing of these events and will continue to be enforced. We are committed to maintaining a place of safety in our church, as well as a means of help for anyone who feels unsafe in their homes.”

Founded in 2008, Redeemer Modesto remains listed as affiliated with Acts 29—a prominent church planting network that has made recent headlines with multiple controversies. 

Last year, Acts 29 leader Matt Chandler took a three-month leave from his church and Acts 29 role due to an “inappropriate online relationship.” Multiple churches have recently disaffiliated from Acts 29 after reportedly being stonewalled when seeking transparency regarding the network’s finances and decision-making process. 

TRR reached out to Acts 29 Network for comment but did not receive a response. 

Sasser is being held at Stanislaus County Public Safety Center on $800,000 bail. According to court records, he is set to appear in court on April 10 for an early case management conference.

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.



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5 Responses

  1. The issue here is that the preferred career choices for predators are those of clergyman, counsellor, police officer, and teacher. Said occupation give the predator potential access to a large pool of victims.

    Here in Canada, our national religion of hockey has experienced major scandals from the top down of the same nature as the scandals afflicting the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptists.

    Namely, predators who have insinuated themselves into coaching positions in order to take advantage of a potential victim’s desire to become a hockey star.

    Those who wish to read more about this should consult the works of retired FBI agent John Douglas. This man virtually wrote the book when it comes to understanding the psychopaths, sociopaths, and predators who dwell among us and what makes them tick.

    1. Mark, my sense is that not all adult sexual offenders against minors, are predators or careerists. So, with some offenders, rather than the predatory offender positioning themselves in a pool of victims, the offending occurs or begins or arises as a result of having immersive contact with minors. In the instance reported here, the victim appears to be a family member; it being unstated whether the membership is nuclear or extended family. So being a parent or an adult member of a family, would have to be added to the risk-category schema. The predator-careerist model does serve to separate the good-us from the bad-them; whereas alternative modelling suggests that such offence is a risk for all of us. That latter modelling suggesting that we have individual responsibility for ensuring that what sexuality we give over to, is good. Presumably Sasser now finds himself effectively in hell, and the minor he violated (presuming the charge holds on its face) requires support to win to a better place. The question arises as to what modelling of offender and offending, best supports the minor suffering the offending.

      1. Colin,

        All right dude – your notion that “such offence is a risk for all of us”….is just bizarre…????

        Using this “reasoning”, we all might be liable to walk into a schoolroom with an AK47 and make heaven home for the attendees IF we have such a weapon, such a proximity, etc.

        NO! dude – NOT going to happen – under NO circumstances will I or the vast majority of people REMOTELY consider any of these destructive behaviors – even on my worst day UNSAVED I would never remotely have thought about hurting a child – and most certainly not now.

        I could go on – but you get the point.

        Please stop!

        1. Greg. I think we are understanding “risk” in different ways. I’m using risk to refer to “risk factors”, whereas you seem to be thinking in terms of whether or not particular individuals are “at risk” of doing a specified behaviour or action.
          Risk-factor schemas to do with violent misuse of weapons, would seem to be different from schemas to do with sexual misbehavior or offence. Possessing an AK47 and being able to access a school, are both risk factors: absent both. the risk of the violence is less; with both present the weight of risk factors is greater. I would speculate that the primary additional risk factors are prejudice and fear: absent those factors, the risk of gun violence is less than when both are present.
          Sexuality that is concerning and ultimately offending, will tend to have different driving dynamics and risk factors, than gun violence.
          All that being said, you are right to judge that “the vast majority of people” are not at risk (in your usage of risk) of actually doing gun violence or sexual offending. Although, if and when our communities go to war, that majority will tend to become less; we only have to look at Ukraine and Bucha for demonstration of that.

        2. Greg. Peter denied Christ 3 times when he swore he wouldn’t and even said he would die for Him. Which he eventually did. But not on the way to the cross. Peter ran.

          Check yourself, man.

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