JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- The Department of Children and Families confirms that they are investigating a leader of a local church.
Action News first told you about an emergency meeting that was held at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Thursday night to decide whether the leader should stay or go. Today we have uncovered new details in the investigation.
A spokesperson for DCF told Action News that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is the lead agency on the criminal investigation, however, police would not confirm the details.
According to church members, one of the leaders is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 15 year-old girl at the church and admitted the activity to the congregation during a church service. We talked with one member who didn't want to be identified. "The behavior was him asking the minor to have sex with him," said the member. She says the girl told him no.
Action News knows the name of the church leader, but are not releasing it unless formal charges are filed. DCF confirms they are investigating the church leader, but they won't say for what. A spokesperson said that a call came into their hotline about the incident and they became involved because the church leader acted as a mentor to the child.
The church member tells us it is splitting up the church. She says last night's meeting was hostile. "They started quoting the Bible about forgiveness. In the end they voted to keep him on," said the member. "A lot of people believe in him and still do."
Action News did talk to a few other members of the congregation, but none of them wanted to talk about the accusations.
A prosecutor for the State Attorney's Office said that while he has not yet been made aware of this specific case, that if someone sends a text message asking a minor for a lewd act to be performed, there can be criminal charges.
Stay tuned to Action News as we continue to uncover the latest details of this developing story.