Updated 04/09/14 – 2:58 p.m.
CICERO (CBS) — Police in west suburban Cicero have charged a youth minister with multiple felonies in a sexual assault case involving at least six boys, and authorities believe more victims might be out there.
Juan David Ferreras, 43, has been charged with one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, two counts of criminal sexual assault, one count of sexual exploitation of a child, one count of indecent solicitation of a child, four counts of distribution of harmful material, and one count of battery.
He was due in bond court on Wednesday.
Police said Ferreras – the son of the pastor at Sonido De Alabanza Church in Cicero – had sexual contact with at least six children ranging in age from 9 to 17. Cicero town spokesman Ray Hanania said Ferreras worked as a youth minister, teacher, and photographer for the church at the time.
Ferreras allegedly used his position at the church to prey on at least six boys, including while at camp retreats. Police said the allegations date back five or six years, and investigators fear there might be more victims.
The acts happened at the church, at Ferreras’ apartment on 35th Street, and at two camps that ran youth retreats for the church – one in north suburban Ingleside, the other in the north-central Illinois town of Tsikilwa.
Cicero Deputy Police Supt. Jose Gonzalez said the investigation started when it was noticed some young church members stopped attending church functions, and one of them started asking questions.
“As it turned out, they then said there was some inappropriate touching going on that made them feel uncomfortable, therefore they didn’t return to the church,” he said.
Gonzalez said there could be two to three other victims, possibly more.
Cicero Police Supt. Bernard Harrison said investigators they want church members to talk to their children about what happened, as there might be other victims.
“We would like them to talk to their children; talk to sons and daughters to find out if they think that there was any inappropriate conduct or contact by this man, or any other person of authority,” Harrison said.
Gonzalez said it won’t be easy for any other victims who might be out there to come forward on their own.
“I give credit to these young boys that did come forward, tell their story. Again, it’s not easy, but they did. So if there’s other people out there that need our help, we’re asking that they come forward and call us, and we’ll absolutely do whatever we can for them, as well,” he said.
The church released a statement saying, ““The Sonido de Alabanza church leadership and its pastors are fully cooperating with Cicero authorities in the investigation of a former employee charged with allegedly abusing juveniles, and we will pray for repentance and healing as Jesus commands us. “We stand and pray with the families and all victims at this time.”
Police asked anyone who might have information on other sexual assaults involving Ferreras to call Gonzalez at 708-652-2130 ext. 348.