Former Jay minister confesses to illegal relationship with 15-year-old

Joshua Spires

By Sheila Stogsdill, World Correspondent

Tulsa World

August 26, 2009

JAY - A former Jay minister confessed to police that he had an “inappropriate, unlawful sexual relationship” with a 15-year-old girl while he was the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, a court affidavit states.

Joshua Spires, 28, now of Odessa, Texas, was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of lewd molestation. He made his initial appearance in Delaware County District Court on Wednesday and was ordered to return on Sept. 29 with an attorney.

He was arrested Tuesday and remains in jail, with bail set at $100,000.

Bryce Lair, assistant district attorney, declined to discuss the details of the case.

Church officials also declined to comment, other than to say that Spires no longer is employed at the church.

Spires himself, though, talked to a Tulsa World correspondent after Wednesday’s court appearance.

Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit behind a glass partition, Spires said he was the First Baptist Church’s minister for four years and was asked to leave on July 31 after his sexual misconduct came to light.

“My goal is not to disgrace the church and not cause my family or the other family any harm,” Spires said. “I don’t know how the church found out. I wish it had never happened.”

He declined to comment on questions about the victim’s allegations, saying he has not yet spoken to a lawyer.

“There is a lot I wish I could say,” Spires said in declining to answer.

“Sometimes I just sit back and say, ‘Who was that guy?’ ”

Tearing up, Spires said he is deeply remorseful for his wife and two children, a 7-year-old son and a daughter who will turn 2 in November.

Both the victim and Spires have said the relationship was consensual, according to a court affidavit from the Jay Police Department. However, under Oklahoma law, a 15-year-old cannot consent to a sexual relationship.

Spires began to tell the victim that he loved her when she was in the seventh grade and he was her youth pastor, the affidavit says the girl told police.

She said the sexual relationship began in 2007 and lasted until Nov. 15, when the victim broke it off to date a high school senior, according to the document.

She told police that the sexual contact occurred in Spires’ church office “every Sunday” the victim was at church about an hour before services began, the affidavit states.

Spires told authorities that he sent about 50 sexually explicit text messages to the victim, according to the document. After the victim ended the relationship, Spires would telephone her and send text messages threatening to commit suicide if she didn’t reconsider the relationship, the affidavit says a witness told police.

Spires’ obsession with the victim escalated to making threats to harm her and her boyfriend, she told police.

“Spires stated that he had nothing since his wife, kids and girlfriend all left him, and he didn’t like it” that the victim and her boyfriend were happy, the affidavit states.

The affidavit says the victim and her mother reported the incidents to Jay police on Aug. 3.

Spires faces up to 200 years in prison if convicted, Lair said.

See also:

Delaware County pastor assaulted girl, 15, on church desk, affidavit says, The Oklahoman, 8/26/09

Ex-pastor Joshua Spires sentenced in abuse of Jay teen, The Oklahoman, 10/17/09

Former Okla. pastor sentenced to 10 years for molestation, Associated Baptist Press, 10/26/09

SNAP Note: First Baptist Church of Jay, Oklahoma, is shown as an SBC-affiliated church.