A youth pastor and aspiring pop star from Warrenton is facing prison time after a Prince William County jury convicted him of sex crimes stemming from his abuse of a teenage girl attending his Manassas church.
The Prince William County Circuit Court jury found 26-year-old Jordan David Baird guilty on five counts of indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian, delivering the verdict Jan. 11 after two days of deliberations. The jury declined to convict Baird on two other counts of the same crime, in addition to a charge of electronic solicitation of a minor.
Prosecutors described Baird as a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” over the course of a three-day trial, accusing him of repeatedly groping and propositioning a 16-year-old girl who worshipped with him at the Life Church in Manassas. Baird’s father, David, is the lead pastor of the large church, while Jordan Baird helped coordinate music services and mentor young people.
Fredericksburg Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kevin Gross, who was tabbed as a special prosecutor in the case, told the jury that Baird “exploited” his relationship with the girl to abuse her, and “thought he could get away with it” because he was the son of a powerful church leader.
The teen, who is now 19, testified that Baird repeatedly groped her at the church over the course of 2015, including two incidents where he rubbed his genitals against her body. She also detailed his history of propositioning her for sex through messages in a trivia app.
InsideNoVa is not identifying the girl because she is a victim of sexual assault.
Baird’s attorney, Todd Sanders, argued that those messages “did cross an emotional line,” but didn’t amount to a crime. He also suggested to the jury that the girl’s story was unreliable, as she initially told church leaders that Baird touched her leg, and only later provided more graphic details to police.
In particular, Sanders argued that the girl’s family likely pressured her into embellishing her story, considering the rift that these accusations prompted with the Baird family. He also claimed there was “absolutely no corroboration” for the teen’s claims.
But Gross pushed back forcefully against Sanders’ claims in his closing argument, noting that the girl had “everything to lose” by accusing Baird of misconduct. He noted that she had attended the church since she was 7, and considered the Bairds a “second family.”
“She knew the defendant for years; this was not some random guy groping her,” Gross said. “This is where she grew up. She spent the formative years of her life at the church. You can understand why she didn’t want to come forward immediately.”
Gross also pointed to Baird’s long history of sexually suggestive messages to the teen as evidence of his intent. He convinced the girl to download the “Trivia Crack” app, then used it to frequently ask her if he could be her “first kiss” or “first time,” urging her to meet him in a hotel room so as to avoid suspicion from his wife.
Several witnesses also testified that Baird was a mentor for young people at the church, including the teen, as he helped lead music services for the congregation. The girl played in the band with Baird, which is how he came to target her, Gross said. Baird was previously a contestant on CW’s “The Next,” a reality TV show designed to identify budding pop music stars, where he was mentored by Joe Jonas. He later toured with the Jonas Brothers, and signed with the band’s music label.
Sanders downplayed Baird’s role in mentoring the girl, arguing that she didn’t provide police with a full history of her text message communications with Baird and pointing out there were no witnesses to some of the incidents the teen described with Baird.
But the jury ultimately sided with prosecutors, convicting Baird on five charges, with each carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Retired Judge Burke McCahill, who was assigned to handle the case, didn’t immediately set a date for Baird’s sentencing hearing.
Gross pressed McCahill for the chance to call several other women as witnesses for that hearing, who would detail similar experiences with Baird. But McCahill declined the request, arguing that prosecutors should charge Baird with other crimes connected to those women if they feel they have enough evidence to prove additional misconduct.