Pastor again hit with sex charges

Minister who was accused of sexual abuse of a boy in Mobile is now jailed on similar charges in Lakeland, Fla.

Alabama Press-Register

Monday, November 05, 2007

Staff, wire reports

A minister convicted of assaulting a teenager in Mobile is now accused of having sexual contact with several boys he met through a youth ministry in Florida, authorities said.

Marshal Seymour, 40, was jailed Sunday in Lakeland, Fla., on charges of using a child in sexual performance, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and tampering with evidence.

Bond was set at $325,000.

In Mobile, Seymour was arrested July 1, 1999, on charges of second-degree sodomy and second-degree sexual abuse in connection with a 16-year-old boy. At the time he was working as a youth minister at Parkway Assembly of God on Dauphin Island Parkway.

The sodomy charge was dropped, Alabama court records show. Seymour pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in lieu of the second-degree sexual abuse charge.

Court records show former Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas sentenced Seymour to a year of probation, suspending a one-year jail sentence.

Reached Sunday, John Tyson Jr., Mobile County district attorney, said he did not recall Seymour's case. But when asked about how a sexual abuse charge could be changed to a third-degree assault charge, Tyson said, often facts that support different charges get revealed after arrests are made.

The same year he was convicted, Seymour moved to Lakeland and began volunteering at the First Baptist Church at the Mall, Lakeland police said. A church background check reportedly did not show the Mobile assault conviction, which was for a misdemeanor.

Lakeland police said Seymour offered some boys money for sex acts or to keep quiet.

"He did exactly what he did here in Mobile, Alabama," Lakeland Sgt. Gary Gross told The Ledger newspaper in Florida. "Sexual predators tend to be wanderers. They move from one location to another."

Seymour is married. His family's listed telephone number was not working Sunday. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney.

On Sunday evening, a Press-Register reporter could not reach the attorney who defended Seymour in Mobile.

While in Mobile, Seymour served as a chaplain at B.C. Rain High School and counseled students after a classmate shot a basketball star in the legs in an attempt to end his athletic career, the Press-Register reported.

The first alleged victim to come forward in Lakeland said he met Seymour through the church and worked for him at a business Seymour owned.

Police said Seymour acknowledged having sexual encounters over the past year with the teen. The First Baptist Church pastor, Jay Dennis, said Seymour was a popular member of the congregation whom he never suspected of inappropriate behavior.

"We are troubled, devastated and shocked by the details of what we have learned," Dennis said. "What has happened here is every pastor's worst nightmare."

(The Associated Press and Press-Register Staff Reporter Susan Daker contributed to this report.)

See also:  Youth minister arrested on sex charges, The Ledger, 11/4/07

SNAP Note:  First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Florida is an SBC-affiliated church.