Bellmead Baptist minister arrested in sexual assault case involving two children

By Erin Quinn and Terri Jo Ryan

Tribune-Herald staff writers
Waco Tribune-Herald

April 2, 2009

William Frank Brown

The pastor of Bellmead First Baptist Church was being held Wednesday in the McLennan County Jail on a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child.

William Frank Brown, 45, remained in the jail late Wednesday, held in lieu of $200,000 bond.

Police said the case involved two victims. One of the children, who was 9 or 10 at the time, told a school counselor about the abuse, which began four years ago and continued for years, Waco police officer Steve Anderson said.

According to the Texas Penal Code, the continuous sexual abuse charge can incorporate more than one victim in incidents that happen over at least 30 days. A conviction can bring a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Brown surrendered to authorities Tuesday after he learned a warrant had been issued for his arrest, Anderson said.

A woman who answered the main phone at Bellmead First Baptist Church on Wednesday afternoon said the church would not comment.

Two women attending the Wednesday night worship service said they couldn’t comment until they had chosen a spokesperson for the church.

“All I can say is we’re trying to move forward,” said one of the women, who wished not to be named.

Tim Randolph, executive director of the Waco Regional Baptist Network, said accusations such as those leveled against a pastor “obviously has a devastating effect on any church.”

Randolph, who is not a member of Bellmead First Baptist, said while he wants to assume the best of anyone, he added, “We also want to ensure the legal process is followed. This is a very, very unfortunate occurrence.”

Preventing such events in the first place would be ideal, Randolph said. Churches are encouraged to work through the Baptist General Convention of Texas to screen personnel they are considering hiring, he said.

Because Baptist congregations are autonomous, they cannot be compelled to go through the BGCT when making hires, he said.

“Steps are being taken,” Randolph said. “Churches are encouraged to report (accusations and subsequent investigations) and verify people against a database.”

Staff writers Cody Winchester and Regina Dennis contributed to this story.

SNAP note: Bellmead First Baptist Church is shown as a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.