A Hill County pastor and former student at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for using social media to lure a teenage girl into a sexual encounter last year.

Benjamin Nelson, 27, pastor of Peoria Baptist Church west of Hillsboro, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, two counts of indecency with a child by contact and online solicitation of a minor.

Judge Lee Harris of Hill County’s 66th State District Court sentenced Nelson to five concurrent, 20-year sentences in a plea bargain Nelson reached with Hill County District Attorney Mark Pratt.

Pratt said Nelson posed as a teenager while talking to the 13-year-old online and convinced her to meet him in a parking lot in Whitney.

The girl’s mother went looking for the girl and found her in a car with Nelson. Nelson fled, driving recklessly through the parking lot of a Whitney business, but the girl’s mother got his license plate number, Pratt said.

That led investigators to Waco and Baylor, where Nelson was enrolled as a first-year student at the seminary.

Nelson must serve at least 10 years in prison before he can seek parole.

One of Nelson’s attorneys, Rob Swanton, declined comment, and his other attorney, Phil Frederick, did not respond to a request for comment.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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