FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A former youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Fort Wayne has been accused of having a multi-year sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl.
Anthony Rismo Gualtieri, 48, faces three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor (level 4 Felony), one count of sexual misconduct with a minor but committed by a person at least 21 years old (level 5 Felony), and one count of child seduction (level 5 Felony).
According to a probable cause affidavit, the girl told police that Gualtieri, 48, told her he had “deep feelings for her” before their relationship turned physical. The girl said that between February 2015 and February 2019, she and Gualtieri had nearly 100 sexual encounters – roughly 20 taking place in Allen County, the affidavit said.
Gualtieri allegedly told the girl “not to tell anyone about the relationship or he would hurt himself,” according to the affidavit.
The pair would meet up at a hotel room that Gualtieri would rent, at his house, or at the church before he was transferred to Jeffersonville, the affidavit said. After Gualtieri moved, they would meet at several different locations, the girl said.
Police spoke with Pastor Joseph Marden from Faith Baptist Church, who worked with Gualtieri while he was there from 2012 to 2018. Pastor Marden said the girl told him about being raped. When he called Gualtieri, he admitted to being in a sexual relationship with the girl but said it did not begin until she was 17-years-old, according to court documents.
Gualtieri reportedly told Pastor Marden that he was in love with the girl, the affidavit said.
The girl’s sister told police that the girl admitted to being in a sexual relationship with an older man in 2018, the affidavit said.
Police later spoke with another witness who was with Pastor Marden when he called Gualtieri. She said that Gualtieri told them to not tell anyone and made suicidal threats if they did. According to court documents, the witness had recorded part of the phone call and gave it to police. Investigators said the recording shows Gualtieri making suicidal threats and saying “the age of consent is 14 to 16.” He said he was going to turn himself in to police and said it was not about sex, it was an emotional connection.
In July, the girl gave officers five pairs of ladies panties that she said Gualtieri gave to her during the course of their relationship, court documents show.
A statement on the church’s website reads:
On behalf of the Faith Baptist Church family, congregants, staff, and members, the leadership of Faith Baptist Church of Fort Wayne are praying for accountability, healing, and justice in light of the recent arrest of Anthony Gualtieri, who served as the Church’s youth pastor from 2012 to 2018. Faith Baptist Church takes the allegations against Mr. Gualtieri very seriously, and leadership will fully cooperate with law enforcement in connection with all investigations. Faith Baptist Church will continue its mission to gather, grow, and serve its community during this time; to provide an environment that fosters values of family, friendship, spiritual growth, compassion, and tradition; and to pray for all of those impacted by these circumstances.
Investigators report that Gualtieri had scheduled an interview but never showed up. A warrant has been issued for Gualtieri’s arrest.