More accusers come forward as pastor admits to sexual abuse

By Kenneth Dean

Staff Writer

Tyler Morning Telegraph

March 4, 2010

PALESTINE -- For more than 30 years he preached in Anderson County. Now he sits in jail after admitting to indecency with a 7-year-old. More alleged victims have come forward with their claims of sexual abuse.

Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said 74-year-old Palestine resident Hezekiah Stallworth remains jailed on a $50,000 bond on the felony charge of indecency with a child stemming from an incident following a church service last month.

The 7-year-old victim told authorities Stallworth, pastor of the Oak Grove Baptist Church in Elkhart, touched her inappropriately.

"That is why he is in jail, but now we have a 9-year-old who has come forward. A forensic counselor is scheduled to interview that child sometime in the next few days," Taylor said.

Taylor continued saying two adults also have come forward with accusations Stallworth sexually abused them in the 1980s.

"We have had one woman come into the office and make a complaint, and we have talked to the other woman on the phone. We expect her to come in and also file a report with us," he said.

Taylor said he was not sure what additional felony charges Stallworth could face, only that they would be sex crimes.

"We're not sure if we will file more indecency charges or if we will file sexual assault charges," he said.

The Anderson County District Attorney's Office has lent Taylor an investigator and the crime victims' coordinator to assist in the investigation.

"We appreciate their help because my detective working the case is following new leads everyday," he said.

When asked if he thought there could be additional victims Taylor replied, "Unfortunately. He preached in this area for more than 30 years, so chances are good there are additional victims out there that we do not know about at this time," he said.

Anyone who may have been a victim of sexual abuse is asked to contact the Anderson County Sheriff's Office at 903-729-6068.

See also:

Victims of alleged abuse come forward after Baptist pastor's arrest, ABP, 3/5/2010

Local pastor arrested, charged with indecency with a child, Palestine Herald-Press, 2/26/2010

SNAP Note: Oak Grove Baptist Church is shown as a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.