JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jeffrey Bedwell, a former Jacksonville pastor who was accused of several sex crimes involving a minor, accepted a plea deal Wednesday. He will receive a sentence of 30 years in prison after he pleaded guilt to two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation, one count of lewd or lascivious conduct, one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and one count of lewd and lascivious exhibition.
The state agreed to drop three charges of sexual battery as part of the plea deal. Those charges held a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Bedwell, 38, was arrested in July 2021. He was accused of grooming and molesting a young girl from the time she was 12 until she was 17.
According to an arrest report, the crimes took place over several years starting in 2013 and ending in 2018.
The report states Bedwell became close with the victim when she was 12 years old and used text messages and Snapchat to communicate with her.
As the two continued to communicate, the arrest report said Bedwell began grooming the child at the age of 13 with text messages, photos and sexual conversations.
During this time, Bedwell was requesting inappropriate photos to be sent to him. By the time the victim was 14 years old the two had begun sending pictures back and forth to each other, the report said.
The exchanges gradually upgraded from pictures to videos.
Bedwell allegedly had two sexual encounters with the victim when she was 14, according to the arrest report.
The sexual assault continued up until the victim was 17 years old, the report said.
During the investigation, police found that Bedwell would sexually assault the child at his home or inside his vehicle.
Based on the evidence, Bedwell was arrested on July 8, 2021 and was booked into the Duval County jail.
Bedwell was employed as a pastor at Chets Creek Church up until 2019, according to Chets Creek Church. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Monday Bedwell was a pastor at "multiple area churches" at the time the crimes were allegedly committed.