MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – For the past year, 53-year-old Christopher Pledger has been locked up in the Clay County Jail, accused of sexual battery, records show.
Investigators with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said a woman came forward in 2016, saying he began sexually assaulting her when she was 13 years old. She told deputies Pledger began forcing her to have sex with him around 15 or 16 years old. An arrest warrant shows she told investigators that the abuse continued for several years.
Several witnesses told deputies Pledger appeared to be overprotective of the teen, the warrant shows. Witnesses told deputies they asked the teen if she was being abused, but she told them no. Deputies said the teen was scared Pledger would abuse her siblings and mother if she told anyone.
When investigators spoke with Pledger, he told them he had an attorney and wouldn’t be speaking to anyone about the case. A few weeks after getting an attorney, investigators said, he left the country. He was arrested in November 2020.
Sources tell News4JAX that Pledger has ties to the Calvary Baptist Church in Middleburg, where his father and brother are both pastors. Documents show state prosecutors sent the defense an email requesting records from the church with a detailed log of events. Another document shows Pledger’s father was subpoenaed.
A request for comment from Pledger’s father, brother and the Calvary Baptist Church was not returned by publication of this article.
Pledger has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Jan. 18.