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DCF confirms investigation into local church leader

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Updated: 10/30/2009 7:02 pm
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.
10 Comment(s)
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

NCPastor - 11/2/2009 11:17 AM
0 Votes
The minister would step down on his own volition if he had one ounce of integrity left. As for forgiveness, offer it, give it but consequences for wrong behavior must be accepted. NC Pastor

bread22 - 10/31/2009 9:19 PM
0 Votes
We must all keep in mind, regardless of title or position in the church, we are ALL held accountable for our actions. Pastor, deacon, choir director, usher, etc. We are taught that from the christian perspective and being Christ-Like, we are to forgive. Unfortunately its hard to forget something of this nature when the person is still serving in that capacity. The family still, as well as the congregation, looking him in the face each Sunday and Wednesday. The proper action would be for him to resign from the post as pastor. The congregation as a whole, must forgive, but it is not wise, membership, financially, or spiritually wise for him to remain in that position. Yes, Jesus was crucified as well. So in this case this pastor will need to take a "crucifixion" so to say, by means of resigning. Unfortunately, when the person remains in pastoralship position it causes friction amongst the members. Prime example, New Bethlehem. We are all held accountable by the law and are not above any laws, neither spiritually, moroally, or human laws. Do whats right, is all I am saying, and not get caught up in judging one another, b/c true we all have sin and come short. But we repent and move on. In some cases, positions need to be surrendered in order to move.

GaLady2 - 10/31/2009 7:39 PM
0 Votes
I was commenting on the responsibility of the church in regards to forgiveness. Not from a legal perspective. If he is charged with a crime and found guilty, then he has to serve his time in prison like anyone else, Christian or not. He should be forgiven by the church but no longer hold his position. That does not mean that I think he should be forgiven legally or given leniency in any way.

dougl stackman - 10/31/2009 3:13 PM
0 Votes
what a sick s.o.b. using his position of trust for his own sick ends. if found guilty he should be treated like any other pervert, preditor. let him preach for 20 years in prison. he shouldn,t be around adults or children. he should be removed from society. i don't care if he's a preacher or a banker. he's not normal. good christian my ass! dragester1

SNAPBaptist - 10/31/2009 11:11 AM
1 Vote
Thanks to Action News for covering this story so that people in the community can be warned and so that parents can talk with their kids. I hope that anyone with any information about this church leader, or any other church leader, will take that information to police.

JessW - 10/31/2009 10:32 AM
0 Votes
Hawkeye, you said that God chose this man to lead that church. The leader of the church is the pastor, so am I to infer that the pastor is offending party?

ohgoodgrief - 10/30/2009 9:47 PM
0 Votes
Forgive? Yes! Forget? No!!! Keep him away from minor children and out of a place of authority or leadership in ANY church. Isn't it a sad day in America when our children cannot even feel safe at church?

jazzmom - 10/30/2009 9:06 PM
1 Vote
This leader,pastor or whatever he is, can be forgiven but should be removed from his leadership position. Isn't Gilyard in jail for doing the same thing? People, wake up!

Hawkeye4 - 10/30/2009 8:24 PM
0 Votes
I think people need to get their story straight. The leader never made a statement that he asked for sex. The member who stated that has not been to the church in quite some time, and is only going by hearsay. God chose this man to lead that church, and it was God that made him stay, even with voting twice. This needs to be put to rest, there is no story here.

GaLady2 - 10/30/2009 6:56 PM
2 Votes
The correct biblical response for the church would be to forgive him if he repents, but they cannot allow him access to any children. He should be removed from his position and not allowed to function in any church leadership position again. He should never be allowed any position in the church that would put him in any contact with children or underage adolescents. Included with repentance should be asking the church and his victim for forgiveness. God forgives, but it is harder for us humans to forgive in cases like this. It is a shame that people commit such acts, especially in churches. It brings a reproach upon the name of Christ and upon the church. We should all pray for this church to be able to recover and go on. Just watch out for the perverts. It is getting harder and harder to trust anyone.
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