NEW BEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - A New Bedford pastor is facing rape and kidnapping charges, officials announced Thursday.

Pastor Elmer Perez, 44, of the Iglesia De Jesuscristo Church, was arrested Wednesday on charges of rape, witness intimidation, kidnapping, indecent assault and battery, and threatening to commit a crime following a month-long investigation, according to the New Bedford Police Department.

The Acushnet Avenue church holds prayer service twice a week. Perez’s name is featured on the mailbox out front.

Those who work in the area say they have never spoken with Perez and they estimate that about 40 to 50 people typically take part in his prayer service.

“I’ve seen him walk by but he doesn’t talk, he just keeps to himself,” a man who works next to the church told 7NEWS. “People will say ‘hi’ but he just keeps walking.”

Perez is being held behind bars pending a dangerousness hearing early next week.

Anyone with information is asked to call New Bedford police at 508-991-6300.

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