Fresno pastor accused of rape offers unusual defense

FRESNO, Calif.

Pastor /*Donald Lockhart*/ was arrested Wednesday, but bailed out a few hours later, and it's not the first time he's been arrested.

A locked-up building in Southeast Fresno is Pastor Lockhart's church and his business. It's also the place where police say he raped a woman on Monday. Action News asked him about those charges today and he had an unusual defense.

Lockhart sifted through a pile of paperwork in his office as he tried to explain the rape accusations against him. Investigators say the victim was in the same building Monday - seeing Lockhart for the first or second time -- when he attacked.

"He was arrested [Wednesday] for forced rape, forced oral copulation, false imprisonment and attempted rape," said Sgt. Nina Jacobs of the Fresno Police Department.

Lockhart runs the Central Community Development Center out of the building. The non-profit has tried to build condominiums as transitional housing for homeless people getting off the streets. Action News was there when they broke ground in Dec. 2008, but take a look at it now, almost three years later. A pile of trash sits in a vacant yard next to several unfinished condos. Lockhart says police and the city of Fresno are making it impossible to finish.

"They don't want the homeless brought right here to the heart of the city, southeast," Pastor Lockhart said.

Lockhart claims code enforcement has targeted him for fines and police have made his life difficult. Officers have arrested him twice in the last two months -- once for shooting a gun, which he admitted doing, and now for rape.

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

But police say the victims came to them, so they investigated the accusations as they would any other crime. And they believe there could be trouble since Lockhart made a $160,000 bail.

"We feel he has been a danger to this victim and we're concerned and want to know if there are other victims out there," Sgt. Jacobs said.

Investigators say they always collect rape kits when they arrest a suspect, but it could take a while before they get results.

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