- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A trial is underway to determine if a man accused of promoting sexual relations with children as a religious right should be declared sexually dangerous and institutionalized.

James Lopes is charged with three counts of grooming for allegedly handing out cards directing people to online videos of him promoting sexual relations with children in April 2016, The Belleville News-Democrat reported (https://bit.ly/2jzZslU ). He also faces several misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and trespassing. Prosecutors allege that he approached young girls and declared he was on a “mini date” with one of them.

The felony charges are on hold pending the trial to determine if Lopes should be declared sexually dangerous. The jury was chosen Tuesday.

Prosecutor Kathleen Nolan said that if the jury rules against him, Lopes would be committed to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections in a facility designed for sex offender treatment.

Lopes has been held in lieu of $75,000 bail at Madison County Jail since last year.

He has opted to represent himself throughout the process.

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Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, https://www.bnd.com

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