Fresno pastor appeared in court facing rape charges

December 7, 2012 12:52:10 AM PST
Fresno Pastor Donald Lockhart is accused of raping a homeless woman more than a year ago at his place of worship.

The rape victim took the stand for Lockhart's preliminary trial. She was very emotional when describing the alleged attack.

Donald Lockhart walked into a Fresno County courtroom, his wife by his side. The Fresno pastor is accused of raping a woman at his church in the summer of 2011.

Lockhart runs the Central Community Development Center in Southeast Fresno. The non-profit builds condominiums as transitional housing for homeless people getting off the street.

Action News spoke to the pastor after the allegations surfaced. He denied the rape charges saying code enforcement has targeted him for fines with his housing project.

"They are going to disgruntled people," Lockhart said. "They're going to whoever we can to drum up false stories then they're arresting me behind that."

But on Thursday, it was the victim's turn to speak out.

Our cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom during the very emotional testimony. The victim, who we are not identifying, claims the attack happened at the center when they were both alone.

The victim was trying to rent a house from Lockhart, but she says he told her she didn't qualify for the low-income housing.

The victim says Lockhart then took her to a room and told her he could "pull some strings" to get her the house. And then pushed her on a couch and forced himself on her.

In court she said, "He was on top of me, his whole body was on top of me and I was pushing him off. I said no, sir, no sir."

Afterwards she said Lockhart told her not to mention the attack to anyone. Lockhart maintains his innocence.

The preliminary hearing will continue Friday. The judge will determine whether there is enough evidence to take this case to trial.


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