A Council Bluffs pastor has been arrested in Minnesota on a Douglas County arrest warrant charging him with two counts of third-degree sexual assault of a child.

According to an affidavit filed Friday, Emanuel J. Rodriguez, 44, fondled two girls on multiple occasions between Jan. 1, 2017 and May 17, 2019. The girls, now ages 12 and 11, told investigators at Project Harmony that the sexual assaults took place inside two Omaha homes formerly belonging to Rodriguez. The affidavit says the girls were fondled while he and the children were under a blanket.

Rodriguez is listed as a pastor at Calvary Assembly of God Church on the church’s website. Church officials declined to comment on the allegations or his status with the church. “We’re aware of it and we’re working with the national office,” said a spokeswoman from the Iowa District of the Assemblies of God.

Mark Forrester, spokesman for the denomination’s national office, said, “Please know we take such issues as this very seriously and we have a well-established process for such allegations.”

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One of the girls showed the other girl’s mother video from her cellphone of herself and the other girl sitting on a couch while under the blanket with Rodriguez as he touched them, the affidavit said. A 9-year-old brother of one of the girls confirmed that he would often see Rodriguez with the girls under the blanket.

Another girl, a 16-year-old, told investigators at Project Harmony that Rodriguez fondled her breasts while she was sleeping on the floor of a hotel room in Minnesota. The girl said she confronted Rodriguez about his behavior the next day and he claimed that “he wasn’t in the right state of mind.”

The teen also saved inappropriate pictures and messages that Rodriguez sent to her via social media, the affidavit says. Evidence from those encounters was turned over to authorities in Bloomington, Minnesota.

A 15-year-old girl also reported inappropriate touching by Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was booked into the Carlton County, Minnesota, jail shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday.

Several days before that, Rodriguez posted on Facebook about unspecified difficulties in his life. Rodriguez cited his 25 years of marriage and his devotion to his seven children in the post.

When a commenter called Rodriguez a sex offender, a Rodriquez family member responded: “Well your believing a lie from a child you don’t know the truth ... my family is hurting and praying ... we (know) he wouldnt do anything like that.”

World-Herald staff writer Nancy Gaarder contributed to this report.

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kevin.cole@owh.com, 402-444-1272

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