a man with a white beard and a gray shirt
Monte Chitty was arrested March 4, 2024, on charges of sexual battery of a minor. MCSO/Contributed

A 62-year-old Marathon pastor was arrested March 4 after Monroe County deputies said he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl after serving her alcohol. 

Monte Lavelle Chitty, the pastor of the First Baptist Marathon church, was charged with two felonies – sexual assault and lewd or lascivious molestation – and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor. 

Chitty walked out of the county jail the same day he was arrested, having posted a $75,000 bond. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment and it was unclear whether he had legal representation. 

Chitty was a registered volunteer with the sheriff’s office who offered his services as a pastor in April 2023. 

“To date he has not performed any services for the office,” MCSO spokeswoman Becky Herrin said in a statement. 

The case started with an anonymous call to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. 

According to the sheriff’s office, the caller reported overhearing the girl tell an adult she had been raped. The girl then boarded a dinghy with an adult and headed out into the harbor. 

As deputies started looking for the girl, a second call came in about the report. It was Chitty, who said he believed he was about to be accused of something and wanted to “get ahead of it,” Herrin said. 

Chitty told a sheriff’s communications officer that a young girl at his church had passed out on a couch in the church’s library after drinking. He said he helped her to lie down on the couch but didn’t touch her.

Deputies found the girl, who told them Chitty gave her an alcoholic drink she now believes was spiked with something else. After she drank it, she said she immediately began to feel weak and lost consciousness. 

“She said when she woke up, she found Chitty sexually molesting her,” Herrin said. 

Detectives found text messages the girl and Chitty had exchanged on both of their phones. 

“Chitty made reference to having sexual relations with the girl while she was impaired,” the sheriff’s office said. The texts include messages from Chitty’s phone talking about what he did to her sexually, a law enforcement source said. 

Chitty, who lives in Marathon, is originally from New Caney, Texas, and has a master’s degree in religion, according to his Facebook page.

On March 6, his page was riddled with angry comments by people referring to his arrest. 

Facebook users posted about the rape allegations in the comments beneath Chitty’s own posts that include memes denouncing transgender people, immigrants and President Joe Biden. Chitty also shared posts with patriotic sentiments, support for the military and Christian beliefs.

“Jesus don’t like rapists,” one commenter wrote. 

The church’s Facebook page includes livestreams of Chitty’s sermons and photos of him helping serve a Thanksgiving dinner for the needy in 2023. The video posts also have been targeted by commenters pointing out his arrest for sexual battery of a minor. An email sent to the church wasn’t immediately answered. 

Gwen Filosa
Gwen Filosa is The Keys Weekly’s Digital Editor, and has covered Key West news, culture and assorted oddities since she moved to the island in 2011. She was previously a reporter for the Miami Herald and WLRN public radio. Before moving to the Keys, Gwen was in New Orleans for a decade, covering criminal courts for The Times-Picayune. In 2006, the paper’s staff won the Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and the Public Service Medal for their coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She remains a devout Saints fan. She has a side hustle as a standup comedian, and has been a regular at Comedy Key West since 2017. She is also an acclaimed dogsitter, professional Bingo caller and a dedicated Wilco fan.