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Florida Pastor Who Housed Ohio Runaway Claims He Did Not Know He Broke Law

The Florida preacher who allowed a central Ohio runaway to stay with his family said he did not know he was breaking the law by housing the girl.

Pastor Blake Lorenz said in an affidavit filed in Franklin County Juvenile Court that he contacted authorities several times concerning teen runaway Rifqa Bary. Bary, who converted to Christianity from Islam, fled her Columbus-area home in July because she said her parents threatened to kill her for changing religions. Her parents deny the allegations.

The Florida pastor said police officers did not pick up Bary for more than a week after he first called them. Lorenz's affidavit contradicts statements made by a former co-worker who said the pastor ignored advice to contact authorities.

Bary currently is in foster care. Last week, a Franklin County Magistrate denied a request for mediation talks made by Omar Tarazi, the attorney for the girl's parents. A hearing is set for mid-January to determine if Bary should return home.