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Community, church members react to news of Virginia Beach pastor arrested on prostitution charges

The arrest of Pastor John Blanchard is shaking up the community. Blanchard is accused of trying to meet with an underage person for sex in Chesterfield County.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — People across Hampton Roads -- many in Virginia Beach -- are expressing their concerns and grief over the arrest of Pastor John Blanchard. Blanchard is a long-time Senior Pastor with Rock Church. The other Senior Pastor listed on the website is Robin Blanchard.

Now, hundreds of people are talking about the latest controversy surrounding Pastor John Blanchard on social media, upset over the news. Many commented on our 13News Now Facebook page, saying, "very sad if these allegations are proven true."

Chesterfield County detectives say they connected with 17 people on social media last week who were seeking to have sex with people underage. 

After setting up a place to meet in person, that's when police arrested all of them, including Blanchard, 51. He now faces multiple prostitution-related charges.

Darin Harvey from Asheville, North Carolina said he used to travel from Elizabeth City to Rock Church in Virginia Beach to attend services. He said he didn't get too close with Blanchard, but met with him a few times. Harvey said it's painful to see a church community involved in this case.

"Whenever I would watch the church's live streams, he was up there on a platform, and I couldn't watch it," Harvey admitted. 

Harvey said he doesn't want to see a church community in pain, but hopes they find a solution to this concern.

"I'm not sweeping it under the rug, but I'm praying God will have mercy on him and whatever is broken in him, that God will fix it," said Harvey. "For this to happen and then get the exposure that it's had... it just says there's a wake-up call that needs to be made in the body of Christ." 

A spokesperson with Chesterfield County Sheriff's office tells 13News Now they released Blanchard a few days ago. Since then, he was seen on stage in Rock Church's Facebook live stream, speaking to people in the pews on Sunday, October 31.

13News Now reached out to leaders of Rock Church and his family members, but they declined to comment at this time.