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Originally published February 21, 2013 at 8:00 PM | Page modified February 22, 2013 at 6:20 AM

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Everett pastor charged in teenage sex case

A 54-year-old Everett pastor was charged Thursday with commercial sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly arranging to meet a 16-year-old girl he expected to pay for sex.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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One of the pastors at Everett’s First Baptist Church was charged Thursday in King County Superior Court with commercial sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly arranging to meet a teenage girl he expected to pay for sex, according to court documents.

John K. Lawlor, 54, was arrested Tuesday evening after police said he made arrangements to meet a person he believed was a 16-year-old girl and then drove to Seattle with $200, condoms and his cellphone.

Lawlor posted the $50,000 bond set at his first appearance Wednesday and is expected to be arraigned March 7, prosecutors said.

Lawlor could not be reached Thursday.

The lead pastor of First Baptist, Brian Harpell, said Thursday that Lawlor had turned in his resignation. Harpell says the church is cooperating with the investigation and praying for all parties involved.

According to court documents, a police detective with the Seattle Police Department’s Vice/High Risk Victims Unit posted an ad in the “Casual Encounters” section of an unnamed website Feb. 8. Lawlor responded to the ad, police said.

In the email conversation that followed, the detective pretended to be a 16-year-old girl who was “full of energy” and wanted to be paid for sex, according to court documents.

Lawlor allegedly requested photographs and asked about the presumed girl’s price and availability, court documents say.

According to police and prosecutors, Lawlor planned to drive to Seattle, pick up the girl at a location near the Northgate Mall on Tuesday and take her back to his Everett home.

Prosecutors said in charging documents that while Lawlor did not appear to have a criminal history, he was a “danger to children given the circumstances of this crime where he tried to meet with a 16-year-old girl in order to have sex with her in exchange for money.”

Lawlor told police that he’d moved to Washington from Idaho last year.

Although the age of consent in Washington is 16, it is against the law to buy sex. A person who is caught attempting to solicit sex for pay from a person under 18 can be charged with commercial sexual abuse of a minor.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at cclarridge@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8983.

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