Youth pastor and teacher’s assistant arrested on child sexual abuse charges

Mesquite, Texas: The Mesquite Police Department announced the arrest of 32-year-old Conner "Jesse" Penny on Tuesday, April 5 on charges of child sexual abuse.


At the time of his arrest, police charged him related to the abuse of a girl that was under the age of 17 at the time, when she was allegedly abused by him between 2015 and 2018. The initial charge against him was one of continuous sexual abuse of a child.


Since his arrest, police have identified four additional victims alleging abuse between 2013 and 2021.


The Dallas Morning News lists his current charges as two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, and one count each of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child.


Penny remains in the Dallas County Jail on a total bond amount of $2.5 million.


The Mesquite Police ask that anyone with information on the case, or that may have been a victim, contact the department and speak with Detective Christopherson at or by calling (972) 285-6336, extension 0.


At the time of his arrest Penny worked as a youth pastor at Inspiration Church, and had previously worked for the Mesquite Independent School District and the City of Mesquite as a teacher's aide and an after school counselor.


While the church has not issued a statement addressing the charges against Penny, the school district did saying, "These charges against Mr. Penny are deeply troubling to the district and the community. The safety of students in our care is always out highest priority, and the police have the district's full cooperation and support as this matter is thoroughly investigated."


Cliff Keheley, city manager for Mesquite also issued a statement concerning the arrest saying that all employees are required to pass a criminal background check and that there are procedures in place concerning their youth programs. "We remain committed to providing exemplary care to our community, including our youth."


According to a document filed during his initial appearance on April 8, Penny stated his intent to obtain his own counsel and declined a court-appointed public defender.


His next court date is not known.