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Virginia pastor arrested in prostitution sting

John Blanchard, the pastor of Rock Church in Virginia Beach, is one of 17 men the Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Unit says were looking for sex from minors through online platforms.

A Virginia pastor is accused of solicitation of minors for prostitution after a police sting.

John Blanchard, 51, is one of 17 men the Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Unit says were allegedly looking for sex through online and social media platforms.

"During the two-day operation, detectives intercepted suspects who believed they were soliciting sex from minors," police said in a statement.

The men thought they were talking to minors and were arranging to meet them, but instead they were talking with detectives, police said in the statement.

Blanchard was arrested Oct. 29 on charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor age 16 or older and using a vehicle to promote prostitution or unlawful sex. He was released on bond.

It was not clear Tuesday if he had an attorney.

Blanchard and his wife, Robin, are senior pastors at Rock Church in Virginia Beach, according to the church's website. They have been lead pastors since 2013.

Video of Sunday's service showed Blanchard spoke at the beginning and end of the service. His wife also spoke briefly. Neither addressed the charges, which were announced the next day.

Police and Rock Church representatives did not immediately respond to requests from NBC News for comment.

Church founder Anne Gimenez told WAVY that "at this time we do not have enough information to make a comment!”