Hearing postponed in pastor's case

Christopher Cox appears with his attorney Paul Jarboe for a preliminary exam on Monday morning in 86th district court. The Long Lake Church pastor faces two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and a delivering or manufacturing meth charge.

TRAVERSE CITY — A local pastor accused of sexually assaulting men after giving them doses of meth will have to wait about a month for his preliminary exam while investigators conclude their work.

Christopher Cox, 41, walked into 86th District Court Judge Bob Cooney’s courtroom Monday and stood handcuffed next to his attorney, Paul Jarboe.

Jarboe and Grand Traverse County’s chief assistant Prosecutor Kyle Attwood agreed to move the examination to May 21.

“The investigation is ongoing, a lot of the lab work is outstanding,” Attwood said. “We would like to have that all on the table.”

Jarboe said some preliminary police reports came in, but he wants to review any lab reports, law enforcement interviews, photographs and inspections of his client's computers and phones before moving forward.

Two men claim Cox, a Long Lake Church pastor, lured them separately to a Traverse City office. He offered them meth and sexually assaulted them once they became drunk or inebriated, according to reports.

One man said Cox sent him a Facebook friend request and asked him to come over. He told the man he had been looking at his Facebook page and was looking for a “drug buddy.” Cox promised the homeless man drugs and women, according to Michigan State Police reports.

He gave the man CBD oil and meth, assaulted him and threatened to kill him if he told anyone, according to the police report. The man went to Munson Medical Center for a sexual assault exam, which showed “trauma consistent with” the claims the man reported to police.

Troopers identified a second accuser through their investigation who raised similar claims against Cox.

He said he met Cox in November 2017, used drugs and alcohol with him and had also been sexually assaulted by him, but didn’t report the incident since he was on felony probation and Cox knew he was violating the conditions by using meth.

Police searched the office at 2301 N. Garfield Road and found evidence including glass pipes, syringes, suspected meth and GHB — the date rape drug.

Cox pleaded not guilty to all three charges, including two first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges and a delivering or manufacturing methamphetamine count. He denied any sexual contact with the first accuser, and said they had watched pornography together, reports show.

Jarboe continues to wait for more information.

“(We haven’t seen) anything to support the claims in the preliminary reports,” Jarboe said. “At this stage, we’ve seen no actual evidence that supports the claims.”

Long Lake Church elder and clerk Jerry Dennis Sr. doesn’t expect Cox to return as the church’s pastor. Officials have been speaking with an attorney and a congregational meeting Sunday will discuss the issue further, he said.

The delayed hearing will begin at 2 p.m. May 21.

See www.Record-Eagle.com for further updates.