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Former San Jose Youth Pastor Charged With Multiple Sex Crimes After Years of Parental Complaints

Brett Bymaster
Screengrab via ABC 7

After several years of ministry, former youth pastor Brett Bymaster, 47, was arrested on multiple counts of sexual assault of a minor.

Bymyaster served as a youth pastor at The River Church Community in San Jose, California. While on staff, he led students, engaged in events, and volunteered at an after school program. According to local news station, KRON4, Bymaster’s attorneys, Dana Fite and Renee Hessling, said that he “ministered on Christian ideas of sex health.”

Former Youth Pastor Brett Bymaster Faces Multiple Counts of Sexual Abuse Charges

According to the San Jose Police Department, allegations from the victim include repeated “sexual assault of a minor” from 2014 to 2019, when the victim was between the ages of 8 and 13. On April 11, authorities arrested Bymaster. He remains in custody at the Santa Clara County Jail with bail being set at $400,000, according to CBS News. His next court appearance is set for April 19.

Parents of teens who were in Bymaster’s care raised questions, concerns, and complaints to church leadership for years. Court documents said that these parents “claim church leaders covered up allegations.”

“Brett’s pattern of abuse—both spiritual and sexual in nature—inflicted immense damage. The River’s cover-up jeopardizes current youth and families who are exposed to Brett…(at) Healing Grove ministry,” parents wrote in court documents.

Reporters from KRON4 obtained a 63-page investigation report that contains statements from former youth group members and parents. Bymaster allegedly “groomed teens, took naked showers with minors on field trips, sexually harassed minors with unwanted touching, groped underaged girls, and pressured teens into sexually explicit conversations.”

Parents reported, “A teen girl attempted suicide in September 2018 in response to Brett’s bullying behavior, including ‘slut shaming.’” After this incident, parents pleaded with church leadership to fire Bymaster.

At least two females, now adults, have reported (one in January 2024 and another in April 2024) Bymaster’s abuse to the police.

One female described multiple sexually abusive incidents. Bymaster led her to an outdoor shed and stood “directly behind her with his entire body pressed up against her body and she could feel his erect penis on her buttocks.” She described an event that occurred years later, when Bymaster would allegedly touch her private areas and shove “his hands in her pants.”

“Brett would talk about his ‘porn addiction’ and heavily encouraged students to ‘confess’ their porn habits,” one girl wrote in a statement to the San Jose Police Department. “Beyond the sexual stuff, (Bymaster and his wife) were emotionally manipulative and abusive in numerous ways. The trauma they left me with affects me every day.”

The River Church Community stated that the “situation was initially explored in 2021 through a pastoral inquiry.” The church continued, “Those who experienced harm (the victims) have asked for a more extensive investigation and The River’s board and senior leaders have agreed that this action is necessary.” A third-party investigator has recently been hired to explore the details more extensively.