Jury selection begins for trial of former Abilene church leader accused of sexual assault

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene man accused of sexually assaulting children at local churches will have his day in court this week, three decades after the alleged crimes.

Jury selection began Monday In the trial of Jeffrey Forrest, who is accused of sexually assaulting children at the churches where he worked in the 1990s.

In 2020, Forrest made national attention when photos of the wanted criminal surfaced as dectectives tried to catch him while he was on the run.

In May of 2020, Forrest was arrested and deported from Mexico before being booked in the Taylor County Jail.

His arrest came four years after he was originally supposed to stand trial.

Back in the 1990s, Forrest was working as a youth leader at several churches in Abilene, including Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.

More than 20 years later charges were filed against Forrest as victims came forward and accused him of sexual assault.

Forrest was arrested in Denton, Texas in 2015, with a trial date set for 2016, but he escaped to Mexico before his trial in 2016, not to be found until 2020.

Now in 2021, he’s expected to finally stand trial.

First, 12 out of 121 jurors are expected to be selected and then proceedings will begin.

Only jurors and courtroom officials will be allowed in the courtroom due to COVID-19.

The trial will be streamed on the 350th District Court Facebook page this week.

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