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Woman accused of extorting pastor after sex act

HANOVER COUNTY, Va.  (WTVR)  –  A woman accused of trying to extort money from a local youth pastor will stay in jail. A Hanover County judge denied bond for Tonya Farnsworth, 33, of Henrico County.

Farnsworth is charged with two counts of extortion in a plot to get money from Pastor Chris Phillips. Investigators said she demanded the money in exchange for keeping an alleged sexual encounter between the two a secret.

Senior Commonwealth’s Attorney Angela O’Connor said Farnsworth advertised for meeting men on the website backpage.com.  According to court documents, Farnsworth tried to extort money from Pastor Phillips who works at a Hanover County church.

In court, prosecutors told the judge Farnsworth threatened to expose her sexual encounter with Phillips, but offered to keep it a secret if he paid her. Phillips himself was arrested a week ago, charged with embezzling $80,000 from the Mechanicsville Advent Christian Church.

The judge denied Farnsworth bond Thursday citing her criminal past. The four-time convicted felon is also facing a probation violation in New Kent, failing to appear in court in Henrico and was just sentenced to a year and two months in jail in Chestefield for a parole violation which she is appealing.

Investigators tracked Farnsworth’s text messages and phone calls threatening to expose Phillips, according to court documents.

Her next court date is in late August.