GALLATIN, TN (WSMV) – A former summer intern at Long Hollow Baptist Church has been arrested for statutory rape of a student.
According to a statement from Senior Pastor Robby Gallaty on the church’s website, police arrested Benjamin Widrick, 24, on June 4.
Gallaty said the abuse appears to have taken place last summer near the conclusion of Widrick’s 10-week service period with the church’s student team at the Gallatin campus, and possibly continued for a time after the former intern’s service ended with church.
The church was notified of the abuse in December 2018 and reported it to Gallatin Police shortly thereafter, Gallaty said. Gallatin Police then transferred the case to the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office.
As far as where the incidents occurred, Gallaty explained that the church did not know the details but were certain that the incidents did not happen at the summer student camp or on the Long Hollow campus property.
One victim was involved, the pastor said, and added that “it is possible” there are more victims, but they have had no other reports in the six months since reporting the initial case.
To prevent anything like in the future, Long Hollow employees must complete a thorough background check and interview process, Gallaty said, and the church has also clarified and expanded its internal policies.
“We restricted interns from befriending students on social media, updated transportation policies, and enhanced our training process. We have also developed a comprehensive Child Protection Policy which includes an extra layer of safeguards, accountability, and training,” he explained.
There is help available for community members, Gallaty said. “Our Member Care Team is ready to serve anyone who is currently suffering from or has previously suffered from abuse. Our Child Protection Team also serves those who have been hurt. For more details, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”