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Nikki Boliaux, Louisville Courier Journal

A pastor in Eastern Kentucky was arrested this week after he allegedly sought sex with a minor via text messages, according to police.

The Prestonsburg Police Department said in a news release that Bobby J. Blackburn, 26, turned himself in Wednesday without incident and was charged with prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor to commit a sex act.

Blackburn is pastor of Elevate Church in Prestonsburg, according to a LinkedIn profile. He is also the owner of Giovanni’s, a pizza restaurant in Prestonsburg, WYMT reported.

A phone number listed on Elevate Church’s website was not accepting calls Friday. An email sent to the church was also not returned Friday.

An employee at Giovanni’s who answered the phone Friday said Blackburn was “not here right now.”

Prestonsburg police officers obtained a warrant for Blackburn’s arrest May 24, according to an arrest citation, after a girl showed a police sergeant images of an iMessage conversation she had with Blackburn.

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In the messages, Blackburn asked the girl, who is a minor, to engage in a “threesome” with him and another female minor, among other sexually explicit requests, according to police.

Both minors were employees of a business that Blackburn manages, according to the arrest citation. The arrest report did not name the business.

On May 25, Blackburn allegedly followed a third female minor to the Prestonsburg Police Department, where she tried to give a statement saying she sent the obscene messages from Blackburn’s phone.

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But when police questioned the girl further, she took back her statement and said that Blackburn told her to say it or else she would lose her job, according to the arrest citation. 

Officers attempted to collect Blackburn’s phone through a search warrant, but family members said the phone was thrown in a Pike County river, according to police.

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Prestonsburg police attempted to arrest Blackburn on a warrant but were unable to locate him until he turned himself in Wednesday, according to the arrest report.

Blackburn was booked into the Floyd County Detention Center Wednesday and released the same day after posting $5,000 bail, according to online court records.

If convicted, Blackburn could face one to five years in prison.

An arraignment hearing is scheduled for June 16.

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