Church pastor cited for failure to register as a sex offender

Jul. 21—HAVERHILL — A New Hampshire man who police said was working as a pastor at a Georgetown church owned by his wife has been charged with failure to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts.

Steven Newman, 56, of 687 Main St., Fremont, New Hampshire, was arraigned July 13 in Haverhill District Court on the charge.

Police said Newman is registered in New Hampshire as a "Tier 3" sex offender, the highest level of sex offender listed in New Hampshire, police said, and that Newman should have registered in Massachusetts, as he was employed in this state.

According to a Georgetown police report, Newman's New Hampshire criminal convictions include aggravated felonious sexual assault on a person under 18 on July 1, 1999, aggravated sexual assault on a person under 13 on Sept. 14, 2000, and failure to report as a sex offender, also on Sept. 14, 2000.

Details about his New Hampshire convictions were not available in time for this report.

Judge Cesar Archilla released Newman on personal recognizance under the conditions that he have no contact with children under the age of 18 and that he not be employed at a location where there are children under 18.

Police in Georgetown, who filed the complaint against Newman, said they had ample evidence to show Newman was serving as pastor of the By Faith Fellowship Church located at 435 Andover St., Georgetown. Based on his employment status, he was required to register in Massachusetts, police said.

Evidence of Newman's employment as a pastor included numerous photos on the church website and its Facebook page of Newman at the church with captions indicating he was the pastor, police said.

Under the church staff director, Newman and his wife Dinice Newman were both listed as pastors of their church, police said, adding that a sign outside the church noted "Pastor Steve."

According to a police report, Newman told police he wasn't the pastor but did serve as a preacher who gave speeches at the church "on certain occasions" and that he did not receive compensation. Police said their research of the church indicated Newman was its chairman of the board and an incorporator.

Georgetown Police Lt. Scott Hatch noted in his report that on April 19 he received a phone call from a woman who said she was searching for a church for her children to attend and found information online about Newman.

The woman told Hatch that Newman "likes 8 year old girls" and that he was not registered as a sex offender in Massachusetts, according to the report.

Hatch said he researched Newman's criminal record and found that he had previously registered in Templeton, Mass., in 2014, as a sex offender.

Police said Newman has been active in the By Faith Fellowship Church since about May 2017.

Police said that on April 23, they revisited the church's website, which they said had been scrubbed of all information indicating Newman was the pastor.

The church's Facebook page had also been altered, police said, noting it has previously shown images of Newman participating in several other events in Georgetown, including "Coffee with Pastor Steve" being held on Tuesdays.

Police said Newman reregistered with the Fremont Police Department on April 19, where he listed his employment as a "laborer" for a junk removal company named Major Drive LLC, 687 Main St., New Hampshire, which according to a New Hampshire business directory has since been "administratively dissolved."

Newman told police it was his wife's company.

When asked how he became unemployed two days later, Newman told police that after everything "came to light" he was laid off from his wife's company.

Newman was subsequently issued a summons to appear in Haverhill District Court for failing to register in Massachusetts.