Former pastor indicted

Bobby J. Blackburn

A Floyd County grand jury issued additional charges against a former pastor and Prestonsburg business owner this week.

A grand jury indicted Bobby Jordan “BJ” Blackburn, 26, of Prestonsburg, on Wednesday afternoon, charging him with two counts of prohibited use of an electronic device to procure a minor to perform a sexual act.

The indictment stems from an investigation that was launched earlier this year by the Prestonsburg Police Department. Following that investigation, Blackburn was charged with one count of felony child exploitation.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner said, however, that at the time that charge was filed in May, the grand jury had already considered similar allegations against Blackburn that involved another minor.

“He was already under investigation and had been for some time for an additional incident involving a different minor, unrelated to the case he was arrested on in May,” Turner said. “The grand jury had already been hearing evidence on the previous case when the second, more recent case, was charged.”

Blackburn has denied the allegations.

The charge filed against Blackburn in district court in May concerned allegations involving an underage female who worked for Blackburn at Giovanni’s of Prestonsburg — a business that is now operated under different management. The second charge issued by the grand jury concerned alleged crimes that took place in 2016-2017. Information about the allegations in the second charge was discussed in district court at a preliminary hearing this year, Turner said.

Turner said the alleged incidents involved minors who were in the 16- and 17-year-old age range.  

Prestonsburg Police Sgt. Ross Shurtleff alleges in documents filed in the district court case that Blackburn asked a minor who worked for him to “engage in a ‘threesome’ with he and another minor.” He reported that Blackburn also allegedly coerced an underage employee of his business to lie to officers about the alleged incident.  

In the affidavits filed to obtain search warrants in the case, Shurtleff reported that he saw images of the alleged iMessage conversation.  

“The victim started a professional conversation about materials at her place of work that Blackburn administered,” he wrote in the affidavits. “Immediately following, Blackburn sent an iMessage that read ‘Naked,’ followed by messages that he wanted to have a ‘threesome’ with the victim and another minor employee, telling the victim that he would ‘give (her) a side of a (explicative deleted)’ and that (he) (was) naked in his office watching porn and being dirty but would not specify which office he was in, but that he was in Prestonsburg.”

In that filing, Shurtleff was seeking permission to search for evidence at Giovanni’s in Prestonsburg, Elevate Church — where Blackburn served as pastor — and offices of other businesses affiliated with Blackburn.  

Attempts to reach the church were unsuccessful, but its website still contains photos of Blackburn. Several pastors have given sermons there since Blackburn has been on home incarceration, according to posts on the church’s Facebook page.

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