Southern Baptist Minister Indicted On Charges Of Raping Student

Feb 10, 2007,,

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A volunteer track coach and youth minister accused of raping a 14-year-old Dyersburg student traveling with him to a cross country match has been indicted by a Knox County grand jury.

Forty-four-year-old Timothy Neal Byars is charged in the indictment with counts including rape, sexual battery by an authority figure and aggravated statutory rape.

Byars allegedly molested the girl at Victor Ashe Park on Nov. 18 while she was asleep in the back of his SUV.

Byars drove his two teenage daughters, the 14-year-old victim and the victim's older sister to Knoxville so that they could compete in the Amateur Athletic Union Southeast Cross Country Championships.

The group arrived at the park hours before the championship rested in the vehicle -- and that's when court records say Byars allegedly began molesting the girl.

Police say Byars later admitted the alleged rape when confronted by the investigators.

In addition to serving as Dyersburg High School track coach, Byars also worked as a minister at Springhill Baptist Church in Dyersburg.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.)


Police arrest West Tennessee coach for raping teen in Knoxville

Robin Murdoch, Reporter

11/20/2006 7:51:52 AM

A Dyersburg cross country coach is arrested in East Tennessee for raping a 14 year old.

Police say the coach was bringing the victim, her older sister and his two teenage daughter's to a track meet in Knoxville when the assault occurred.

44-year old Timothy Neal Byars is out of jail on a $50,000 bond.

He's charged with one count of rape.

"For a 14 year old she seems to be pretty stable. She's very level headed girl. It's got to be a terrifying incident for her. She seems to be handling it very well," says Steve Still, Investigator with the Knoxville Police Department.

Investigators in Knoxville say the crime happened at Victor Ashe Park on Saturday.

Police say Byars held a lot of positions in which he had contact with kids.

Investigator Still says, "This person was known to the family. He was the track coach at the school, youth minister, a music minister, a person in a position of authority but a person one would generally think could be trusted."

Police say Byars drove the victim and the three others girls to Knoxville to compete in a cross country competition.

Investigators say they had all planned to rest in Byar's SUV in the park's parking lot until the meet.

That's where the alleged assault occurred.

"She was able to later in the morning to text her mother and father. They had a friend who had a plane who was able to fly them up immediately. They arrived at the park and contacted the police department," adds Investigator Still.

The Superintendent of Dyersburg Schools, Lloyd Ramer says Byars has volunteered as the cross country coach at the high school for the past two years without any complaints.

Ramer says he plans to investigate the allegations.

The father of seven also served as the youth minister at the Springhill Baptist Church where those who worked with Byars are trying to make sense of the charges.

James Branscum, Pastor says, "He's loved here. He's been a wonderful minister here so I really don't know what to do but pray for him pray for our church."

Knoxville investigators plan to call Nashville police on Monday to talk to them about a possible second victim and second assault that happened in Davidson County on the way to the meet.

See also: "Baptist Minister, Volunteer Track Coach, Charged with Rape", EthicsDaily, 3/28/07