A youth pastor from the First Baptist Church Strafford in London is facing seven felony charges following accusations that he repeatedly s*xually abused a child inside the church.
The 46-year-old pastor Jeff Taylor was charged Thursday with five counts of statutory sodomy and two counts of statutory rape.
According to the victim, the pastor abused her for years as often as once a week, when she was less than 14 years old.
The victim came forward to law enforcement on Tuesday, and Taylor was booked into the Greene County Jail the next day.
According to court documents, Taylor admitted to Greene County Sheriff’s deputies that he engaged in sexual activity with the victim. He allegedly said his actions were “based in love.”
Court documents say until a few days ago, Taylor worked at First Baptist Church in Strafford.
According to one of the prosecutor, Taylor had been initially fired from his previous workplace for s*xual misbehaviour.
In asking that Taylor be held in jail without bond, prosecutors wrote that he is an “extreme threat to the victim and the community.”
The accused pastor currently does not have an attorney to stand in for him.
Pastor Rick Durham with First Baptist Church in Strafford sent the following statement to the News-Leader:
“After our church leadership learned over the weekend about Mr Taylor’s horrific actions toward a member of his family, he was immediately terminated from his position as Student Minister at First Baptist Church and referrals were made to the child abuse hotline and local law enforcement agencies. We are cooperating fully with their investigation.
“There have been no reports of inappropriate acts committed toward any other youth or children here at the church or during church activities. We have in place and have implemented policies and procedures to prevent abuse.
“Our church is ministering to the Taylor family in this difficult time and we are praying for peace and comfort for all involved.”