Former local pastor arrested after massage parlor raids
Edward Espinosa, the former community outreach pastor at Waco’s Antioch Community Church, was in the McLennan County Jail Thursday charged with prostitution in the aftermath of raids in December on two local massage parlors from which video evidence was recovered.
Bond was set Thursday evening at $1,000 on the class B misdemeanor charge.
The church announced the arrest on its website Thursday after McLennan County deputies took Espinosa into custody.
“Espinosa was immediately suspended from his position at Antioch on December 7, 2017, after disclosing to his supervisor, and turned in his resignation on December 19, 2017,” the church said in the announcement.
Espinosa passed a number of routine background checks during his tenure at the church “and was never accused of misconduct toward women,” the church said.
“Our hearts are broken over any and all sexual exploitation of women. As a community we have been committed to not only stand against it, but to assist in the rescue and healing process for anyone victimized by sexual abuse or exploitation,” said Jimmy Seibert, senior pastor of Antioch Community Church.
“Ed’s conduct was not only inappropriate but directly against our values and policy as a church and as the people of God. We continue to be committed to helping heal whatever is broken, whether on behalf of the victim or the victimizer, we believe restoration is still possible through Jesus Christ.”
On Dec. 4 authorities raided massage parlors at 2625 West Waco Dr. and 2509 Washington Ave. that were equipped with cameras.
The owner, Chun Yang Zhang, 47, of Austin, was charged with engaging in organized criminal activity as a result of the raids.
Zhang was released from the McLennan County Jail on Dec. 9 after posting a $30,000 bond, according to jail officials.
Investigators said at least three women were working for Zhang and paid her to live at the businesses, in addition to giving her most of their earnings.
The women were handed-over to UnBound, a local group helping human trafficking victims.
All were immigrants and didn’t speak English, but through a Mandarin interpreter they told investigators they didn’t know what they were doing until they got there.
Antioch’s anti-human-trafficking ministry, UnBound, provided assistance to the women.
“This is a sad and difficult reminder that people from all walks of life are contributing to the demand for commercial sex and sex trafficking in our community,” said Susan Peters, executive director of UnBound and a pastor at Antioch.
“While we are grieved for the pain of the Espinosa family and all the families impacted by this crime, we also know the pain and abuse that has been suffered by the victims involved. We will not tolerate this type of behavior at Antioch Community Church or in McLennan County.”
A former McLennan County sheriff’s deputy and a Waco restaurant owner who also were among 150 men caught on camera at one of two local massage parlors that authorities raided in December have also been charged with prostitution.
Ex-deputy Stephen Johnson, 44, and Uncle Dan’s BBQ & Ribhouse owner Daniel Henderson, 64, were arrested Wednesday on the class B misdemeanor charge and were later released after posting bond.