News Americas, CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, Fri. Dec. 10, 2013: A North Carolina Lutheran minister will have to spend the next 25 years in jail for sexually molesting four Haitian girls.
Larry Michael Bollinger, 68, of Gastonia, has been jailed for engaging in illicit sexual conduct while on mission trips in Haiti.
According to court documents and the sentencing hearing, Bollinger travelled regularly to Haiti because of his involvement with the Lazarus Project, a charity that supports two charitable organizations in the country, the Hope House and The Village of Hope School.
In or about August 2009 to October 2009, Bollinger sexually molested four Haitian females between the ages of 11 and 16. Court records indicate that one of the victims said Bollinger offered to pay her food and money in exchange for sexual acts.
Bollinger pleaded guilty in January 2013 to two counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place.
He will also serve a lifetime under court supervision following his prison term and register as a sex offender. Bollinger has been in federal custody since he was charged in May 2012.
Bollinger was the pastor of Christ’s Evangelical Lutheran church until 2004. He volunteered at House of Mercy in Belmont from 2002 to 2005 and worked for a missionary organization, The Lazarus Project, while in Haiti. His jobs in Haiti included working with the food pantry and Village of Hope, a school operated by the Lazarus Project. The crimes were committed in 2009 while he was working for the organization. When the allegations emerged, Bollinger was fired.
U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. called Bollinger’s crimes heinous before handing down the sentence, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Bollinger is a sexual predator who used his missionary work as a cover to hide the heinous sexual abuse he perpetrated on the innocent children of an impoverished country,” said U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins from the Western District of North Carolina. “Prosecutors and law enforcement worked tirelessly to bring this monster to justice, and even though today’s sentence cannot undo the harm Bollinger inflicted upon his young victims, it is a clear message that our justice system will protect children beyond our borders.”