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A former Gaston County pastor was denied bond after he pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing Haitian girls while running a ministry in the impoverished country.
Larry Michael Bollinger, 66, was in federal court on Monday morning after he was accused of traveling to Haiti to engage in sexual conduct with a girl younger than 18 years old, according to an indictment.
The indictment was handed down last week against Bollinger, but new details were released during court proceedings on Monday afternoon.
According to investigators, Bollinger was in Haiti working as the director of the Hope House, which provides food, shelter and schooling for Haitian children.
In court, investigators say four young girls from Port au Prince came to the Hope House because they knew they would be able to get help. That's when investigators say Bollinger sexually abused the young girls, trading them help for sexual favors.
The incidents occurred in Haiti between August 1 and November 18 of 2009, according to the indictment.
Bollinger denied the allegations in court on Monday - pleading not guilty.
His supporters were in court to be by his side, including 25 to 30 members of his church, and his wife, Margaret. Bollinger's two adult children did not appear to be in court.
"Sometimes really good people make mistakes, but the news doesn't like that," Nancy Kraft said. Kraft is the current pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Investigators say the allegations came to light when Bollinger went to visit his psychotherapist to seek treatment for sex addition. He reportedly told his therapist about the young girls in Haiti, which legally had to be reported to federal authorities.
WBTV learned that investigators began looking into the allegations, but Haiti was hit by a massive deadly earthquake just weeks after Bollinger returned home. The disaster slowed investigators, who weren't even sure if the reported victims had survived the earthquake.
The victims were eventually located and gave their side of the story.