Gilcrest pastor accused of illegal sexual contact struck, killed by train | CraigDailyPress.com

Gilcrest pastor accused of illegal sexual contact struck, killed by train

Kelsy Schlotthauer/Greeley Tribune

WELD COUNTY – The Weld County Coroner on Sunday identified the man killed in a Platteville pedestrian vs. train collision on Friday as a Gilcrest pastor arrested about a week earlier on suspicion of unlawful sexual contact.

Paul Stephen Wakefield, 62, was on foot when a southbound train struck him about noon Friday on the tracks along U.S. 85 at the Weld County Road 34 crossing, according to the coroner's news release.

Police, firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene after a witness called 911. The train was traveling at a speed below the limit in the area at the time, according to the release.

Wakefield, a pastor at Gilcrest Baptist Church, was arrested Jan. 3 following a Windsor Police Department investigation.

Police were called to a Windsor assisted living facility after a nurse walked in on Wakefield kneeling in front of a female patient with his hands up her shirt and his head on her chest, according to the affidavit for his arrest. A nurse told police the woman has cognitive communication deficit and problems with her memory.

In addition to unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor, Wakefield was booked into the Weld County Jail on suspicion of committing a crime against an at-risk person, a felony. He bonded out.

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Alex Schneider, a deacon with the Gilcrest Baptist Church, said Wakefield was immediately removed from his leadership role and placed on leave as soon as other church leaders learned about his arrest.

Steve Nothem, another deacon at the church, offered this statement Sunday:

"It is with heavy hearts and great pain that we mourn the loss of our pastor.  He was a man who deeply loved the Lord and devoted his life to pointing others to Jesus Christ.  We would value the prayers of your readers for comfort and for God to do a mighty work through this pain and sorrow."

Wakefield's death remains under investigation by local and federal authorities, according to the release, and the manner and cause of his death await the completion of autopsy and laboratory reports.