SAN RAMON -- A Korean church whose pastor was charged this week with having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old runaway was reeling on Thursday from the revelations.
Jason Jeon, senior pastor of the Contra Costa Korean Presbyterian Church, said the church was shocked by a police statement that 33-year-old Hyo Bin Im, also known as Pastor John Hyobin, was hiding teen runaways at the church and in his San Ramon home, and had a relationship with at least one of them.
Im was arrested Jan. 29 at his home and charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office on Tuesday with unlawful sexual intercourse, child concealment and animal cruelty, according to San Ramon police. He is currently out on bail.
"We're heartbroken," said Jeon, who leads the 600-member congregation located at 2460 Old Crow Canyon Road. "We are praying for John and for the girls, who were youth members of our church."
Im was hired by Contra Costa Korean Presbyterian in April 2012 after having been a guest speaker at the church, which offers services in both Korean and English.
"He was a good speaker and well-liked, especially by our English-speaking members," said Jeon. "That's why we hired him."
Police say they believe Im met one of the girls he was hiding at the Salvation Army Korean Corps in San Francisco, where he was a church leader. He then founded his own church, called The Living Well Ministries, a group that he described as working with emancipated orphans, the homeless and widows, according to police.
He has also been charged with severe animal cruelty after police said he had hit a dog so severely that it had to be put down.
Contact Karina Ioffee at 650-576-9626. Follow her at Twitter.com/kioffee.