SBC releases list of known abusers in TN within organization
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Southern Baptist Convention released a full list of over 700 ministers who are accused of sexual abuse nationwide Thursday night.
The full list can be accessed here however here is the full list of ministers in Tennessee who are accused of sexual misconduct according to the official report:
*Editors note: The following information may be graphic for some readers.
|Mark Curtis Adams||2018||In 2017, Adams, who was a deacon and youth teacher at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Mount Carmel, was arrested on child pornography and one count of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity. He was then sentenced on May 7, 2018, to 120 months in federal prison in federal court after pleading guilty to a charge that he used social media application called “Kik” to induce a minor child to engage in illegal sexual activity.||SBC|
|*redacted*||2009||Former paster booked on aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape of a female adult.||SBC|
|Larry Michael Berkley||2014||Berkley was a pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church in Harrison, AR, and a former pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Henning, TN. He was arrested for abuse of over a dozen boys as young as 14 and 18. Police say he plied them with alcohol and marijuana and showed them porn to gain compliance.|
Berkley was convicted of 16 crimes, including four counts of aggravated statutory rape and four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, and was then sentenced to 33 years. He was incarcerated in Tennessee and registered as a sex offender.
|Courtney Michelle Bingham||2018||Dec. 11, 2018, Bingham, youth leader, Bethany Baptist Church Loudon, TN, admitted and was charged with “aggravated statutory rape and soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor.”||SBC|
|*redacted*||2021||On July 7, 2021, the 47-year-old minister of students was charged with solicitation of a minor in a TBI undercover operation||SBC|
|Timothy Neal Byars||2008 Abuse 2006||In 2006, Byars, 44, minister of youth, education, and music, Springhill Baptist Church, Dyersburg, TN, was arrested on charges of rape, sexual battery by an authority figure, and aggravated statutory rape (14-year-old and 19-year-old sisters).||SBC|
|*redacted*||2017||In 2017, the former associate youth pastor was accused by three men of sexually assaulting them in the 90s while he was working at the church. He was not prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired.||SBC|
|*redacted*||2007||A former pastor was charged with having inappropriate contact with a resident.||Baptist Type Unknown|
|Luke A. Cooke||2015||In 2007, Cooke was a youth pastor and was indicted on rape and aggravated sexual battery charges involving 8-year-old and 16-year-old girls. Cooke fled the country and was later returned to the US and was sentenced to 138 months in federal prison.|
He had fled to China, Morocco, and Albania after being indicted on sex crimes charges in Shelby County, TN in 2007. In 2015, he was brought back from Albania by U.S. marshals and convicted in Tennessee of “coercion or enticement of a minor” for having transported a juvenile with the intent of engaging in illegal sexual activity. He is now in federal prison.
|Christopher Ryan Crossno||2015||Christopher Ryan Crossno, Sunday school teacher and volunteer at Spring Creek Baptist Church, Clarksville, TN, pleaded guilty to sexual battery for inappropriate contact with a 6-year-old in 2012. His plea resulted in a three-year suspended sentence. He is to register as a sex offender and undergo a psychosexual evaluation.||SBC|
|Gregory Stanley Dempsey||2006 Abuse 2003||Gregory Stanley Dempsey who was a former minister of music, at Oak Street Baptist Church, Soddy-Daisy, TN, confessed to allegations and was charged with 3 counts of statutory rape and 3 counts of sexual battery for abusing a 16-year-old boy in 2003. In 2006, he was a pastor of Middle Valley Methodist Church.|
He was later convicted of a Sep. 1, 2003, sexual battery by an authority figure, according to his Tennessee sex offender registry.
|Charles Alan Denton||2014||In 2012, Denton was a retired police sergeant and associate pastor at Bethel Baptist Church and was charged with 2 counts of rape on allegations that he inappropriately had sexual contact with a 36-year-old mentally challenged woman. In 2014, he entered a guilty plea to an amended count of sexual battery, a Class E felony, and agreed to three years of probation at 35%. |
In 2014, Pastor Ted Denny said that Denton remains a pastor at that church because he accepted a plea and felt it was in the best interest of him and his family.
As of 2022, he is no longer listed on their website.
|Timothy Ronald Felts||2009||Felts was a youth pastor at North Springfield Baptist Church in Springfield, TN. |
Convicted of sexual battery in 2009 and listed as a sex offender. He was convicted again in 2016 of three counts of aggravated statutory rape as well as attempted aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor for offenses that occurred in 2015 and 2016. Serving a 14-year-prison sentence in Tennessee.
|Jonathan Tyler Giles||2011||Giles was a youth minister at Spring Creek Baptist Church in Clarksville, TN.|
The 24-year-old served as a youth pastor before his arrest in June 2009 on three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, two counts of solicitation of a minor, and sexual battery by an authority figure involving three teenage girls who attended Spring Creek Baptist Church.
Giles pleaded guilty in Jan. 2011 in a plea bargain reached to keep victims from having to testify in court. He was sentenced to two years in prison and placed on a post-trial diversion allowing him to avoid jail time if he completed 240 hours of public service, lived with his parents out of town, and stayed in school.
|Steven C. Haney||2009 Abuse 2001||In 2001, Haney, 47, who was a former pastor at Walnut Grove Baptist Church in Cordova, TN, was handed down criminal indictments from a grand jury of rape, 3 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure for assaulting a 15-year-old boy.||SBC|
|Randall T. Hollifield||2009||Hollifield, who was a youth volunteer at New Beverly Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN, was charged with Rape of a Child, Especially Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, and Criminal Attempt to Commit Aggravated Sexual Battery.||Baptist Type Unknown|
|Matthew Maurice Jernigan||2009||In 2010, Jernigan who was a church youth volunteer at Heartland Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, TN, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 15 years probation. The abuse happened sometime in 2009.||Baptist Type Unknown|
|Jason Kennedy||2016||Kennedy who was a youth minister at Grace Baptist Church in Karns, TN, was arrested for patronizing prostitution and human trafficking. He is now registered as a sex offender for soliciting a minor for sex.||SBC|
|*redacted*||1987||A Baptist minister in TN was accused of molesting and raping three small sisters during church outings and visits, once raping a five-year-old girl under a church pew. He was also accused of molesting and raping the sisters at their family’s home and during an outing arranged to help him distribute religious tracts. The girls had tried to tell their parents but were not believed. “Being a preacher,” the father had told officials. “We thought he was a good man.”|
The minister killed himself in July 1987 when facing trial for abusing the three sisters.
|John Randy Leming||1998||Leming, a pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Sevierville, TN, pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape for oral sex with a 16-year-old congregant when he pastored Shiloh Baptist Church in Sevier County. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to the offenses that occurred in May and June 1994, when he was 31, and lost his appeal of the concurrent 18-month sentences he deemed harsh. |
Leming has continued to serve at Antioch Baptist Church since March 2014 according to the SBC Annual Church Profile.
The SBC Executive Committee disfellowshipped the church in 2021 for employing a pastor who confessed to two counts of statutory rape.
|*redacted*||2008||The youth paster was charged with two counts of solicitation of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, 27 counts of exploitation of a minor by electronic means, five counts of solicitation of a minor for aggravated statutory rape, and solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means. He was later indicted after he allegedly solicited a 15-year-old girl for sex online according to Detectives.|
SBC said it is unknown if he was sentenced.
|Chad Eugene Luttrell||2010||Lutterell was a volunteer at Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Church in Bemis, TN.|
He is a registered sex offender after pleading guilty to a June 10, 2009, offense of sexual battery.
|Mark Woodson Mangrum||2007||In 2007, Mangrum, 47, was a former preacher, FBC in Parsons, TN, and settled on a plea agreement. He plead guilty to distributing porn to minors by computer, charged with sending email and instant messages while trying to entice him into committing oral sex of a 14-year-old.|
He later plead guilty and was sentenced in 2018 to 70 months in federal prison and 20 years supervised release for distributing child porn in order to “induce a minor to engage in sexual conduct.”
|Donald McCary||1992||In 1992 McCary, 48, minister of music and youth, Central Baptist Church, Hixon, TN, was sentenced to 72 years in prison for abusing 4 boys ages 12-15 in 1989. |
In 1996, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the grounds that testimony from a man who claimed to have been molested by McCary as a child was permitted although the pastor was never charged with the crimes involving the witness.
The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the conviction of McCary in one trial and reversed another conviction. He was given two other trials involving two different victims, and he was convicted in both cases. The appeals court upheld one jury’s findings, but in the second case said the state had not properly elected offenses to proceed on and that a prosecutor made improper statements to the jury.
|*redacted*||2003||In 2003, the former pastor was indicted on sexual misconduct charges involving a 14-year-old girl and a 30-year-old woman that occurred in 2000 and 2001. He has lived in Arizona, Missouri, Illinois, Texas, and Tennessee.|
He was later ordered to complete two years of community supervision without adjudication of guilt in 2004 after pleading no contest to the felony sexual assault made by a child victim. A warrant was issued for his arrest in 2006 after prosecutors claimed he failed to complete conditions as required.
|Jimmy Orick||2018||Orick was a pastor at Mountain View Independent Baptist Church in La Follette, TN, and pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated statutory rape, three counts of attempted statutory rape by an authority figure, and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure.||Baptist Type Independent Fundamental|
|Matthew Dennis Patterson||2017||In 2017, Patterson was a pastor at Nolensville Road Baptist Church in Nashville, TN. He was indicted on eight counts of aggravated sexual battery. Each count is linked to a different child.||Baptist Type Independent Fundamental|
|*redacted*||2004||In 2004, the 25-year-old administrative employee was indicted on statutory rape of a 17-year-old female.||SBC|
|Edward Earl “Eddie” Prince||2011||Prince was a pastor at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Hernando, MS, arrested on possession of child pornography. |
He is now listed as a sex offender in Mississippi for a 2013 conviction of child exploitation.
|Heath Tyler Ransom||2017||Ransom was a youth minister intern at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN. He is accused of contacting four minors and attempting to persuade them to engage in sexual activity.|
He is now a registered sex offender in Tennessee for a 2017 conviction of criminal attempt to commit solicitation of a minor. He is on probation through 2025.
|*redacted*||2007||The pastor was charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure.|
It is unknown if he was sentenced.
|Tandy Eugene Roberts||2017||In 2017, Roberts was a former pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Santa Fe, TN. He was arrested on charges of aggravated sexual battery by an authority figure regarding acts against a 12-year-old female in 2012.||SBC|
|Christopher Douglas Ross||2018||Ross was a youth pastor at Fairview Church in Lebanon, TN, and pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure. |
He was convicted in 2016 and is serving a four-year sentence in Tennessee state prison.
|*redacted*||2018||The pastor was indicted for 3 counts of rape, 2 counts of unlawful contact, and sexual battery by an authority figure. He was a guest speaker for a local church meeting in 2014 when the rapes occurred.|
It is unknown if he was sentenced.
|*redacted*||2018||Pastor was charged with stalking and the case was sent to the Grand Jury.|
It is unknown if he was sentenced.
|Baptist Type Uknown|
|Andy Savage||2018||Savage was a teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN, a non-denomination congregation. He resigned after admitting to the congregation that in 1998 as youth minister at Woodlands Parkway Church near Houston, now known as Stonebridge Church, he had a sexual incident with a high school student. Since the stature of limitations had expired, no charges were filed.||SBC|
|Demarcus Smith||2015||Smith was a pastor at Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, and was sentenced to 85 months in prison on child pornography possession charges.||Baptist Type Unknown|
|David Lee St. John||2016||In 2016, St. John was a pastor at The Bible Truth Baptist Church in Bristol, TN. He pleaded guilty to six felony counts of aggravated sexual battery and three felony counts of rape of a child for activities with two girls under the age of 13 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison without the chance of parole. The church dissolved after the pastor was arrested.||Baptist Type Unknown|
|Benjamin Widrick||2019||Widrick, 24, of Syracuse, NY served as a 2018 summer intern at Long Hollow Baptist Church’s Gallatin campus where he engaged in sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl. He was arrested on 3 acts of statutory rape. |
In 2018, he was a 23-year-old Liberty University student majoring in pastoral leadership. The victim stated they had sexual intercourse once while at camp and twice when Widrick came back to TN to visit her. He pleaded guilty and was issued an effective five-year Range I probation sentence. As part of the plea agreement, the offenses were reduced to statutory rape, a Class E felony.
He is not a registered sex offender.
|Paul Williams||2006||In 2006, Williams was an assistant pastor, minister of prayer and special projects, at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, TN. He admitted that he was guilty of sexually abusing his son in 1990. Bellevue leaders told the church Williams had committed a “moral Failure” that required his leave of absence and an investigation into the allegations. |
Pastor Steve Gaines told the congregation Williams had confessed the misconduct to him six months earlier. He received criticism for not reporting the abuse earlier. Williams was later fired.
It is unknown if he was sentenced.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
Copyright 2022 WSMV. All rights reserved.