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SALISBURY, N.C. – A North Carolina youth pastor has been sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for raping a 13-year-old girl, according to the Salisbury Post.

Benjamin Ross Hollifield, 26, of Salisbury, was convicted this week on multiple charges including seven counts of felony statutory rape/sex offense and four counts of felony indecent liberties with a minor.

Hollifield was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 23 years in prison. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender.

Hollifield had been a young pastor at Piedmont Baptist Church in Kannapolis where he was convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Detectives began investigating the incident in April of last year. Hollifield said he started texting the victim, which eventually led to sexual intercourse.

“It is extremely unfortunate to see Hollifield, who was a trusted youth pastor, use his position to take advantage of the young lady,” said District Attorney Brandy Cook.

Hollifield admitted that he knew the victim was 13 years old. He said he knew it was “inappropriate” and the “Holy Spirit told him to stop.”