EVERETT, Wash. (AP) – A church pastor was sentenced to nearly three years in prison for raping a 14-year-old girl in his congregation.

The Daily Herald reports 36-year-old Eli Antonio Diaz-Valdez was sentenced last week in Snohomish County Superior Court for third-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

Diaz-Valdez was pastor of a small congregation that rented space at the Sanctuary Covenant Church in Everett.

Prosecutors say he first sent the 14-year-old girl a text message in November 2016 saying he just wanted to talk. Court documents say she obliged because he was a pastor and she needed to be nice to him because of that.

The girl later reported he made her feel special. Much later, the girl reported she realized she was being groomed.

In March 2017, court documents say he raped her at the church.

Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com

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