VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A man, who has been serving as a pastor in Valdosta, has been arrested in connection to multiple sexual assault cases out of Portland, Oregon, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
Grace Fellowship Seven Day Adventist Church has Helio Ferreira, 41, listed on its Facebook page as its senior pastor.
“He don’t know the word of God," said Valdosta resident Yevonne Graddy.
Graddy and John Pope III, another Valdosta resident, said they’re just glad he is off the streets.
The GBI said Ferreira was arrested Dec. 3, in a multi-agency investigation that included the GBI, detectives with the Portland Police Bureau’s Sex Crimes Unit, the Hillsboro (Oregon) Police Department and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m very glad that they are doing their job by getting him and putting him away so he can’t do it to anyone else," said Pope.
The investigation is related to Portland, Ore. cases from 2012, 2016 and 2018.
“I think that they need to pay attention more closely on who they appoint to being their leader, like in their church or in the church community," said Pope.
Graddy said that stories like these make her afraid for her grandchildren, who also live in Valdosta.
“I have girls and you have to be careful with the boys today too because they molest boys, just as much as they do girls," said Graddy.
Pope said he thinks these types of things serve as an unfortunate wake-up call for the community.
“It’s not only people that’s running the streets that you should be worried about, it’s also people that’s appointed to being our leaders that need to be questioned also," said Pope.
WALB knocked on the doors of the church and called the number that is listed on its Facebook page, but we haven’t received any response or comment at this time.
Portland Police Bureau detectives are actively looking to see if there are other related cases.
Anyone with any information that could help investigators or information you believe could be connected is urged to contact Detective Ross Dormady at (503) 823-0880.