Ex-Pastor Faces Life Sentence After Federal Jury Convicts Him in Teen Sex Case

LAKELAND | A former pastor faces mandatory life in prison after a federal jury found him guilty Friday of sexually assaulting a teenage boy and trying to groom two others for abuse.

Arnold Mathis, 41, was arrested in December 2011 after spending a late night at a casino and returning home to find Polk County deputies waiting.

Detectives began investigating Mathis a day before when the victim, now in his 20s, accused the former Higher Praise Ministries assistant pastor of sexually abusing him.

When the abuse began, Mathis served as senior pastor of Saint City Power and Praise Ministries in Winter Haven, Polk County deputies said at the time of his arrest.

Mathis used a cell phone between November 2004 and January 2005 to lure the victim, then 14, into having sex, according to the Justice Department. T...


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