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Testimony underway in pastor's trial for underage sex charges

Testimony underway in pastor's trial for underage sex charges (WPEC)

A jury on Monday heard disturbing and shocking allegations against a Palm Beach County pastor.

James Jackson is on trial, charged with having sex with three underage girls.

In a quiet voice, the trial’s first witness, an alleged victim, talked about Jackson’s so-called “sessions” on how to be a good wife.

“We had watched a movie," said the young woman, who CBS12 is not identifying. “And he would have me touch my body."

She detailed how she said over time the sessions turned sexual and escalated to sex acts with Jackson, starting when she was 17.

Another alleged victim told investigators Jackson started having sex with her when she was 12.

Police arrested Jackson and his now ex-wife, Valerie, in 2016, stunning the community.

At the time, CBS12 News learned the Jacksons rented worship space at different locations and had a youth organization with prominent local donors.

“He used his power for years to manipulate these women in every way possible,” said prosecutor Michelle White in her opening statement to jurors. “Beneath this religious exterior and behind closed doors, something much more sinister was going on."

Jackson’s defense team declined to make an opening statement to jurors, so it’s unclear exactly what the defense position is.

Earlier in the year, Valerie pleaded guilty to essentially knowing about, but not reporting, the sexual activity.

As part of her plea, she agreed to testify against her ex-husband and she’s expected to be called as a witness later in the trial.

If convicted as charged, Jackson potentially faces decades behind bars.

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