HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) — A central Ohio man accused of sexually assaulting multiple underage girls at a Hilliard church has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him.

Joshua Pearson, 23, appeared in court Friday for his first time. He pleaded not guilty to four rape charges and other sexual assault related charges. The Hilliard Division of Police (HPD) first announced the indictment earlier this week. Sgt. Marcus Blevins said this case shows it’s never too late to come forward about a crime.

“The old adage I think everyone is familiar with, see something, say something. And it doesn’t detract from that when it’s the say something is 10 years ago,” Blevins said. “There’s still that availability to come forward, to have these cases heard, to have our victim heard, to push them from being no longer a victim but to being a survivor.”

The first report was made in April 2021, according to Blevins, about five years after the alleged assault took place.

“With her being as brave as she was coming forward, that assisted us in this investigation,” Blevins said.

Alleged incidents involving a 7-year-old girl and 10-year-old girl took place at the church at 4410 Avery road, according to HPD. Investigators said Pearson was a teenage member helping in the children and teen rooms at the time. Dates of offenses listed on the indictment range from 2012 to 2016.

“Rest assured we pleaded not guilty for a reason,” said Sam Shamansky, Pearson’s defense attorney.

During Friday’s arraignment, Shamansky questioned the time of the first report taken in 2021 to when legal action was taken.

“I do know my client has zero record, has been cooperative, has been available, and that’s reflected by the appearance bond he received today,” Shamansky said.

Pearson is also charged in a more recent sexual assault of a teenage girl 13 or older and younger than 16, according to the indictment. The listed date of offense is on or about June 23, 2020 to June 22, 2022. The judge set a $100 thousand dollar surety or appearance bond and $20 thousand dollar recognizance bond.